Virginia Beach releases details of arena project

Photo courtesy Rubin Communications Group

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach city leaders are pushing ahead with plans for an arena at the Oceanfront.

City staff and developer United States Management (USM) came to a tentative agreement after a closed-door meeting on Monday night. On Tuesday, Deputy City Manager Doug Smith presented the details of the agreement to city council.

Smith went over the arena plan, as well as USM’s and the city’s plan for financing the project. If the proposal is approved by a supermajority on December 8, USM leaders have said they will invest $200 million into the project. Smith said during his presentation, the city would fund $76 million in infrastructure improvements around the arena. The city’s portion would come from the Tourism Investment Program Fund, which includes a hotel room tax.

If approved, the arena would be built across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center on 19th Street. The facility could seat up to 18,000 people and is expected to attract major recording artists and sporting events. Smith said the arena would be located on 5.8 acres of land and the lease would be for 60 years.

“We knew that for this to be successful, it had to achieve the goals of the citizens and all the other stakeholders,” said Joe Gelardi, USM’s Vice President and Arena Program Director.

Gelardi said there is no other facility like the proposed arena in the region. He also said USM is invested in the area, as they are locally based and many of the people involved are lifetime Virginia Beach residents.

“This is a personal thing to us,” Gelardi explained. “It’s not just another building, and in fact, it’s not about that at all. It’s about the people. It’s about what [the arena] is going to do to help inspire and grow the community.”

Both Councilman John Moss and Councilman Bob Dyer said after the presentation, they plan on supporting the arena proposal.

“I haven’t heard anything yet that tells me that I shouldn’t,” said Moss. “But I’m here to listen to what the public thinks.

Moss encouraged residents to visit the city’s website to read the contract summaries, then attend the December 1 public hearing.

Dyer said he believes the arena’s end result will be a positive one for the city.

“Even a skeptic like myself,” sad Dyer, “I can’t tell you how excited I am for this and what it can bring to the future of Virginia Beach.”

Councilwoman Barbara Henley did say she had concerns. She brought up USM’s bank is not yet named in the contract. Gelardi explained that will be included when and if the deal is approved. Henley said she also had concerns about parking and the length of the 60 year lease.

“Right now, I’ve got this as a major concern, that someone has to make me very comfortable with this in order for me to support this,” said Henley.

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.

The entire arena proposal can be found at: http://www.yesvirginiabeach.com/resources/arena-information

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