VB city council approves arena deal: What's next?

Ten of 11 Virginia Beach City Council members voted in favor of the arena proposal.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Developers revealed some of their plans for the newly-approved Oceanfront arena at a press conference Wednesday.

United States Management CEO Andrea Kilmer said they have an aggressive time table to bring the 18,000-seat arena to Virginia Beach. 

She said it will likely be mid-2016 before they close on financing with Chinese lenders and the end of 2016 for groundbreaking.

"Now that we have the ball, we're going to do what private enterprise does best and move forward," Kilmer said. 

She projects the the arena will rake in more than $1 billion over the next two decades and she's trying to attract a major sports team to the Beach. 

"The NHL currently has two considerations of two potential teams that are on the table right now that they're going through that process, and so now that we have those approvals we can certainly pursue that more aggressively," Kilmer said. "We're excited about the great economic impact this will have," she said.

Virginia Beach City Council voted 10-1 Tuesday in favor of bringing the state's largest arena to the resort city.

A month ago, the city finalized a tentative contract with a private developer to build across from the Convention Center.

United States Management offered to pay for the project up front, and the city would funnel tax revenues from the arena to pay off the USM's debt.

The developer will pay close to $200 million to build the arena and assume operating costs. USM will lease the nearly six acres of city-owned land that is mostly a parking lot right now.

Virginia Beach will commit $76.5 million to infrastructure improvements, which includes things like additional parking and road upgrades.

Councilwoman Barbara Henley, the lone dissenting vote, expressed concerns, including parking.

"On a vote tonight, I cannot accept this deal," Henley said.

The councilwoman remained skeptical Wednesday over the private financing of the project.

"USM has not fulfilled its commitment that the financing would be firm, before the city council would be asked to approve the contracts," Henley said. "In fact, we'd be allowing up to another 10 months for them to obtain a loan commitment, and up to still another 10 months to close on a construction loan."

There were several town hall meetings for the public to voice support and concern about the arena deal.

Some of the concerns citizens have voiced involve traffic issues and public safety, along with potential financing from a Chinese institution, as well as the possibility that construction materials from China could be used.

Once construction begins, the project will take about two years to complete.


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