City, developer reach tentative agreement on VB arena project

WAVY FILE -- Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms announced Monday the city has reached a tentative agreement with United States Management, LLC to move forward with the construction of a $200 million dollar arena across from the city’s convention center.

Council members attended the special meeting Monday to discuss the proposed arena in Virginia Beach. City council, city staff, and departments heads such as Chief Jim Cervera, were all present at the meeting.

“It’s taken quite a while to get here,” said Sessoms. “But one of the reasons it has taken a while is there’s not a project like this that’s ever been done in the country.”

Sessoms was referring to the financing of the project. United States Management (USM) will invest $200 million into the arena. Sessoms said Monday evening, the city will invest $50 to $70 million in infrastructure around the arena. An example of the city’s investment would be the plaza outside the arena, the water and sewer lines leading to the facility, as well as road widening near 19th Street.

Sessoms said the agreement is not a done deal yet. The land the arena will potentially be located on is city land, which means council will require a supermajority is required for the project to move forward.

The mayor told there is one detail of the contract the city and USM still need to work out. Tuesday at 4 p.m., council will return to a closed meeting to take another look at the contract. If both parties agree, there will be a presentation outlining the project in the council chambers. Sessoms said the presentation will most likely happen shortly after 4 p.m. He added, all documents related to the project will be made public.

There will be two opportunities for the public to weigh in on the project. On Thursday November 19, there will be a community presentation at the Virginia Beach Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. On December 1, there will be a public hearing on the project. On December 8, city council is expected to vote on the agreement.

United States Management released the following statement on the agreement:

United States Management remains optimistic it can reach final agreement on contract language with the City of Virginia Beach that will lead to development of a privately financed 18,000 seat capacity entertainment and sports arena. We are excited about the potential for such a facility in the region while acknowledging the complexity of structuring a deal that is fair and equitable for both parties. We thank the City Council for its time and careful consideration of this opportunity for the citizens and look forward to the public communications process that will begin later this month, in advance of a vote by City Council on December 8.

The facility, which is proposed to be located across from the convention center at the Oceanfront, will have an 18,000 seat capacity. Sessoms said he hopes to attract major recording artists and sporting events, such as the ACC basketball tournament.

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