Tax payers voice opinions on Va. Beach arena deal

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Tuesday night, Virginia Beach residents had the chance to voice their opinions on the proposed arena.

“We are very excited about the arena project coming to the city,” one resident told city council.

City officials have already reached an agreement with United States Management and ESG Companies to build the $200 million facility. It would hold 18,000 people.

“To say that I’m against the arena is not true,” resident Kenny Golden said. “I just don’ think that we are ready.”

Under the agreement, USM would assume all financial and operational risks, including any shortfalls. The lease would run 40 years and cost the city only $1 dollar each year.

“The arena will create significant economic benefits and employment during construction and operation,” another resident said.

In front of a packed house, council members heard from residents and Virginia Beach’s restaurant and hotel associations.

“The arena project has been identified as our association’s number one priority, as it provides many benefits, such as increased slower season activity with a great impact on overnight visitation,” one business owner said.

The city would have to pay nearly $53 million in infrastructure costs. Also, if it chooses, it could dish out another $26 million for landscaping around the building. Some people think that cost is too much.

“Not only is it not the government’s job to entertain, simply, it’s not your money to give,” one speaker told council members.

“You say it’s all going to be financed by a developer, but if it fails, then we are going to be left with a pretty dog gone big bill and a big building,” Golden said.

There is a town hall meeting on the arena Wednesday at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Next Tuesday, city council members are expected to vote on the project.

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