Virginia Beach Seeks State Funds

Virginia Beach, Va., announced plans in August to build a $350 million, 18,500-seat arena and now the city has unveiled how it plans to fund the development – with $150 million from the state.

Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Warren Harris recently requested the funds in a letter to a state economic partnership authority that outlined where the money would be spent.

The city seeks $70 million to help construct the waterfront arena. Because the city is hopeful a pro sports team will come to the city, another $38 million is allocated for league relocation fees and team moving expenses and $42 million to offset the team’s financial losses while it plays in a smaller venue during construction of the facility.

Photo: HKS Sports & Entertainment / Virginia Beach Economic Development

Virginia Beach would contribute $195 million to the project, the Virginian-Pilot reported, and Comcast-Spectacor has agreed to chip in $35 million toward the project. The company voiced its support for the arena early on and agreed to lease the building for 25 years and help pursue an anchor sports team tenant.

“Without financial participation from the Commonwealth, this project cannot move forward,” Harris wrote. “This will be a facility for the entire Commonwealth, and the team will be the Commonwealth’s team.”

While an economic study noted the state could earn nearly $11 million in taxes annually if a pro team moved to Virginia Beach, time will tell whether lawmakers will prove supportive of the proposal.

State delegate Bob Tata told the Virginian-Pilot the concept seems “pie in the sky.”

“This is a beer and pretzel town,” he said. “Realistically, if I had to vote on it, I’d vote no. I just can’t see. Pro sports, it’s a tough racket. It’s here today, gone tomorrow.”