Virginia Beach gives preliminary approval to $200m arena, public could pay $175m of cost

Three years after Virginia Beach started looking into building a new arena to lure the Sacramento Kings to move to town (SPOILER: they didn’t), Mayor Will Sessoms and the city council met yesterday to reach agreement on the construction of a $200 million, 18,000-seat venue on city land. According to the latest renderings, the arena will include lots of spotlights and fireworks and lens flare (or maybe that’s the moon, who can tell, it’s all so blurry).

The project would receive $50 to $70 million in city infrastructure spending (which would include things like a plaza outside the arena, which isn’t really infrastructure, but anyway), and also … we don’t know what else also, because the meeting was behind closed doors, as will be today’s followup meeting. So no official word on whether the city is still planning on providing $8.5 million a year in tax kickbacks to the arena developers to help pay for stadium construction costs, as was reported last year (along with reporting that the arena would be “funded entirely by private investors,” because journalists don’t understand simple economics and anyway can’t be bothered to question press releases because someone important might get mad).

So we could still be looking at more than $175 million in public subsidies for a $200 million arena. There will at least be one public hearing on the project (on December 1) before a final city council vote on December 8, which presumably will be public, but you never want to assume in Virginia Beach.

8 comments on “Virginia Beach gives preliminary approval to $200m arena, public could pay $175m of cost

  1. Any indication as to whether they will be pursuing a sports team or are they going the Kansas City route?

  2. I though “pursuing a sports team” was the Kansas City route. (As distinct from “getting a sports team.”)

  3. The Bee released KJ’s phone call last evening. It’s very damaging. I think he’ll resign very soon. You can find the recording at

  4. But, “There is not a project like this that has ever been done in the country,” and the arena will be a game-changer that will put Virginia Beach on the map. Ya know, because no tourists come to this beach resort city ever.

  5. $200M for a basic arena, which includes 16,500 seats, 30 suites, 40 loge boxes and 500 club seats. Didn’t see anything about restaurants and wide concourses. It’ll cost another $200M to bring it up to NBA/NHL standards.

  6. Roberto stole my thunder; given the costs of the latest major league playpens, $200M will NOT but them a barn fit for the NBA or NHL; it might pay for the shell, but I have my doubts about that. Smells like a low-ball price to get taxpayers to opt in, then bite the bullet when the costs begin to escalate. Mike Ilitch just added between $95M to $150M worth of upgrades to the new Wings’ barn (I do hope they call it the new Olympia), but he’s contractually obligated to pay for it himself (although I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that he’s taking the hit out of the goodness of his heart — hello, $12 beer). Problem is, VA Beach doesn’t have a team to pay for the overruns, which means that they’ll be paid by…. well, let’s see…. there’s, uh….

  7. Wasn’t OKC’s arena done for about $200m, then upgraded later once they got the Thunder?

    In other words, the “overruns” can be pushed off until there’s a team, maybe. Though even then, getting the team to pay for it could be a challenge.

  8. If I were an NHL or NBA exec looking at this list, I’d probably conclude that there won’t be a lot of season tickets to be sold at current prices. Though a team sponsored by a school system would be a new twist.