AEG asks Cincinnati to help pay for $200 million renovation of arena, no one laughs for some reason

Show of hands: Did you even know that Cincinnati had a basketball and hockey arena? It hasn’t had an NBA team since the Royals moved to Kansas City in 1972, and major-league hockey since the Stingers went away with the folding of the WHA in 1979. But it still has the U.S. Bank Arena, built in 1975 as the Riverfront Coliseum, and probably best known as the reason we don’t have general admission rock shows anymore.

Anyway, the arena is, according to its LinkedIn page, “a first-class, state-of-the-art venue,” and

U.S. Bank Arena’s owners unveiled a plan Tuesday morning that showed how long-anticipated and extensive renovations could support the Downtown venue’s future.

Right, that’s what I meant, it needs $200 million in renovations to gut the place and add luxury suites and “revitalize downtown Cincinnati” and all that. Because after all, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer, “The 40-year-old arena has not undergone a major renovation since 1997”! Can’t be having that!

The arena is co-owned by theater operators Nederlander Entertainment and venue mega-managers AEG, neither of whom have said anything about how this major renovation will be paid for, though the Enquirer reports that “taxpayers will be asked to pay at least part of the bill for any improvements.” This wouldn’t necessarily be bad if taxpayers also got a share of arena revenues to help repay their investment, but something tells me that’s not what Nederlander and AEG are thinking.

Anyway, one hopes that Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials will drive a hard bargain here, and — oh, who are we kidding, this is Cincinnati. Once your elected officials have bought into the notion that having concerts in the same place with nicer cupholders is going to “revitalize” your downtown, all hope is lost. Unless you get some different elected officials.

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7 comments on “AEG asks Cincinnati to help pay for $200 million renovation of arena, no one laughs for some reason

  1. Congratulations owners of the US Bank Center on making Nassau Coliseum’s post rerenovation rendering seem more plausible by comparison.

    Call the bluff Cincinnati….

  2. Cincy needs to tread carefully. Cincinnatianites wouldn’t be happy if the arena’s owners decided to move it to some upstart city like Virginia Beach.

  3. As a resident of the area, I’ve been to several events at US Bank Arena. It’s a decent venue for concerts and minor league hockey, but no amount of renovations will ever make it a next level event center. It’s too small for NBA and NHL, and its boxed in by the highway, river, and ballpark right next to it, so there is no room to expand it. After all the money Cincinnati and Hamilton county have thrown at venues in the last 20 years, I hope they realize that if AEG wants improvements, they are welcome to pay for it themselves.

  4. Ask Kansas City how aggressive AEG will be in bringing a NHL or NBA team to Cincinnati once they get their upgrades.

  5. Well, I am certainly glad they intend to ask the taxpayers directly rather than the governments who represent them. Care to put that in writing, AEG?

  6. Appreciate the viewpoint of this site, as I was an avid Reds fan until it was clear that corporate interests and urban interests didn’t really align.

    Having mentioned urban interests, I don’t really think the angle on this renovation is one of downtown revitalization. Cincinnati’s downtown isn’t really sick, and any downturn that may have happened with the mid-century urban exodus is definitely well into an upswing there.

    Keep exposing the BS. thanks.

  7. Yeah, it is a field of schemes, starting with observation that Neder–lander appears sophisticated enough to not “need” tax payer assistance or maybe Nederlander is like a 5013C and they’re just proposing this to help out the good citizens of our community. Accepted as normal these days is the flawed reasoning that since every other city and state is going deep in debt to have their public venues keep up with the other city Joneses, ours should too. Also, why are these proposals always at the extremes of reasoning. In this case, the argument is that since the Coliseum hasn’t had a major renovation in X number of years, we need to go all the way to the Taj Mahal level of 200 million-$350 million. As if nothing in the range of $50 million or $100 million could be done to upgrade the facility. If it’s a ballot issue, I would vote no.

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