U.S. Bank Arena Renovation Proposed

The owner of Cincinnati’s

U.S. Bank Arena
courtesy of U.S. Bank Arena
– U.S. Bank Arena
In Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ray Harris, COO of Nederlander Entertainment, which owns and operates the arena, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the $370 million renovations would involve replacing most of the current structure. A renovated arena would attract larger events, bringing more revenue to the area.

“To be a major-league city you need the ability to host big events, and we don’t have that right now,” Harris told the paper.

If approved, the proposal would ask voters to extend a quarter-cent sales tax currently being used to renovate the city’s Union Terminal, bringing in an estimated $313 million. Nederlander would sell the arena to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority for $35 million to $40 million, giving ownership to the public. The port would employ Nederlander to operate the arena.

More events from the renovated arena would generate around $34 million over a six-year period, in addition to $14 million made from parking. The money would help fund the project.

The proposal faces heavy resistance however. Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune told the Enquirer that sales tax dollars will not finance the renovations.

“We’ve all been pretty firm, we’re not looking at any sales tax financing of the U.S. Bank Arena,” Portune told the paper.

Hamilton County commissioners would have to approve putting the proposal on the ballot.

Port chairman and former Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken is also opposed to the proposal.

“I worry about getting the Port into a situation of taking on public debt,” Luken told the Enquirer. “The revenue stream isn’t assured. It put us in the position of assuming that if they build it, people will come. I’m not comfortable with that.”

Luken still wants to see the arena renovated, even though he is against Nederlander’s proposal.

“There is nothing I would like to do more than redo U.S. Bank Arena,” he said.

Harris told the paper that the city will continue to lose out on economic opportunities if they don’t renovate the arena.

The venue was blamed when the city lost its bid to host the 2016 Republican Convention. In April, Cincinnati won the bid to host the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on the condition that the arena is renovated.

“We’ll do what we’ve always done: maintain the building so it’s functional and keep bringing shows in,” Harris told the paper. “It’s not the building that is bad, it just can’t host the cream-of-the-crop events.”