Well, that was the epitome of anticlimax. Yesterday’s big Virginia Beach arena announcement turned out to have no mention of the Sacramento Kings or any other teams, no discussion of how an arena would be paid for, and really, no details at all. What it did have: effusive promises about economic impact and job creation. Old Dominion economist James Koch put his name on the economic projections, but as one Virginia Beach city council member noted at yesterday’s hearing, all of his data came from the arena proponents, so it’s unclear what he did beyond running the numbers through a modeling script.
Even then, though, Koch did come up with a figure for how much an arena — provided it attracts an NBA team, 200 events a year, and so on — would generate for Virginia Beach in terms of new tax revenue. (Tax revenue is the key number in these things, not “economic impact” — except for the taxes paid, it should hardly matter to Virginians whether money is changing hands between team owners and players, or between arena builders and construction contractors for that matter, in their town or somewhere else.) That figure is: $5.2 million a year. So in the best-case scenario, we can say that the benefit to Virginia Beach would make it worth dedicating about $5.2 million a year toward an arena. That’s enough to pay off maybe $75 million in arena costs, meaning the other $200-325 million would have to come from Comcast’s pockets.
Whether that’s going to happen, unfortunately, we have no clue, as there’s currently no financing plan for the arena — that’s something the city and Comcast plan on working out between now and October, which is an awfully short time to find hundreds of millions of dollars in between the sofa cushions. But hey, why worry yourself over things like how it’ll be paid for when there are pretty pictures to paint? After all, it was so much fun the last time.