Virginia Beach asks residents: Would NBA arena be cool or what?

There may be no money for it, but that’s apparently not going to stop Virginia Beach from plunging on ahead with plans to build its $426 million NBA arena, or at least talking a whole lot about plunging ahead with it. The latest came Tuesday, when a city council committee held a town hall meeting at which local residents could weigh in on such questions as “What intrigues you about the idea of having a sports and entertainment venue in Virginia Beach?” and “What concerns do you have about the arena project?” (Okay, those were actually the only two questions. “What have city leaders been smoking?” inexplicably failed to make the cut.)

According to WAVY-TV, “The moderators did not encourage or discourage any of the comments. Instead they wrote them down, to bring them back to city council.” WAVY didn’t provide much detail on the comments either, so we’ll have to hope that the council provides a full public accounting, which I’m totally sure they will. The council also took the opportunity to hand out its latest PR documents on the arena plan, in case anybody was feeling insufficiently intrigued.

Meanwhile, an official at the city’s convention center says that what intrigues him about an NBA arena is that it would enable the city to tap into the lucrative world of arena lacrosse and religious assemblies. “They’re meeting in the cities, like the San Jose’s of the world, the Omaha, Nebraska’s and we feel we have a similar product and we could go after those groups,” said Convention and Visitors Bureau VP Al Hutchinson. Which marks the first time in recorded history that anyone has used Omaha as a favorable comparison as opposed to, well, you know. Congratulations, Omaha! You’re moving up in the cautionary tale world!


5 comments on “Virginia Beach asks residents: Would NBA arena be cool or what?

  1. None of the articles from that area said much about the actual meeting. They noted that the meeting took place, that about 200 people showed up, and when and where it was… And that was about it. They completely missed the biggest detail — how people feel about the idea.

    So go to the Virginia Pilot website and look at the comments in the story entitled “Va. Beach residents weigh in on proposed arena plan”. Overwhelmingly negative, if you ask me.

    On the other hand, the comments against the Santa Clara stadium were negative, as were the comments against the Downtown Sacramento arena plan. It looks to me as though once some elected board makes a decision, the sentiment of the public doesn’t matter.

    Oh well. Seasons greetings anyway, Neil.

  2. It’s a great deal because for VA Beach because by giving back $6.1M in taxes plus committing $4.5M in new taxes/fees to their $20M per year in debt service, they’ll make a profit if the arena operating net revenue comes anywhere close to $18M a year. Nevermind that it arenas really did generate that much net revenue on their own each year, the cheaper ones could be build entirely from that net revenue stream and owners wouldn’t mind building them.

    This is where the city would get the money to pay for its bonds each year:
    Arena operating net revenue: $18.5 million
    $2 per ticket surcharge: $1.7 million
    Two-thirds of admission taxes from the arena: $5.2 million
    1% hotel tax increase $2.8 million
    State sales tax rebate $0.9 million
    TOTAL $29.1 million
    So the city would receive $29 million a year in revenues to pay for almost $20 million in
    debt service. Similarly, the state would get about $11 million a year in new taxes – enough to pay for its debt service.

  3. Wait, wait — the city wouldn’t be operating the arena, Comcast would. Comcast isn’t promising to pay $18.5 million a year in rent, is it? Where on earth is the council getting that figure?

  4. Dunno, the document linked to in PR said Annual Arena Operating Net Revenue: $ 18.5 m
    – (after operating costs/revenue sharing) but the one linked to in documents acted like it was city revenue and they’d profit. The principles the council negotiated by make it sound like Seattle’s “will cover any shortfalls in debt service from our end”, but that would be near $10M a year based on their statements and certainly wouldn’t generate “profit”. Some wires may have gotten crossed at the negotiating table.

  5. Chef Joe

    There is no way in hell the city is getting that $18.5 million. I saw the document too but it’s not happening. They may get a chunk but no way Comcast AND the NBA franchise are going to let the city have all the revenue. It was a straight up dishonest thing for them to suggest the city is going to get it.

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