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.