Laugh all you want, but Virginia Beach is still taking seriously its chances of building a new arena to lure an NBA team (presumably the Sacramento Kings), with Mayor Will Sessoms last night formally directing his staff to ask the city council to ask state officials for $150 million to help build the thing.
Actually, only $70 million would go to the arena, according to WAVY-TV sports director Bruce Rader, with the other $80 million going to pay the Kings’ NBA relocation fee and to compensate them for playing at Old Dominion’s arena while the new one is being built. This could mark a new trend in sports deals — we’re not asking you to subsidize the arena, we’re just asking you to subsidize the team! — except that we still don’t know whether the city is going to be asked for additional subsidies for the arena itself, since the full finance plan is still a mystery. [UPDATE: Sessoms now says the city would be putting in $195 million; it’s only where the money would come from that’s a mystery.]
As far as the state’s concerned, is there any way that $150 million could be a reasonable expense to lure an NBA team? An economic impact study last month projected $11 million a year in new tax revenues for Virginia, which would just about barely pay for a $150 million lump-sum payment in present dollars — but that was based entirely on numbers provided by the arena developers, so should probably be taken with a large grain of salt. Would it be too much to hope that the Virginia legislature would have the good sense to authorize an actual independent economic impact study before voting to shell out arena money? Mm, yeah, probably.