VIRGINIA BEACH -- City leaders in Virginia Beach are moving ahead with a plan to build a new 18,000 seat arena at the Oceanfront.

Council members got an update at their meeting Tuesday night about preliminary estimates of infrastructure costs.

The estimates, which were put together by consulting firm Kimley Horn & Associates, said the city could need to pay between $52 million and $78 million in infrastructure-related expenses.


That number is lower than an estimate given to 13News Now last month, which put the number closer to $100 million.

One way planners trimmed costs was by eliminating a planned parking garage near the arena, which was going to cost roughly $40 million.

In interviews Wednesday, arena developers and Mayor Will Sessoms both said the garage would have been sparsely used.

The plan presented to the council on Tuesday night calls for 2,700 parking spots immediately on the arena's property and another 1,900 within a 15-17 minute walking distance, mostly towards the Oceanfront around the Dome site.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Sessoms said the city's consultants assured him 2,700 spots would be adequate for an arena with a maximum capacity of 18,000.

'I wish I could say we would have 18,000 people in the arena all the time,' Sessoms said. 'Obviously, that's not the case.'

Joe Gelardi, who works for United States Management, the private company developing the arena, said their plan calls for roughly 3,000 parking spots at the arena site. That number would be able to accommodate 95 percent of events at the arena, Gelardi said.

'The largest, maximum capacity, events will be occuring roughly 15 to 20 times a year,' Gelardi said. 'Those would be the events where we need a larger parking resource.

Gelardi's projections are based on the bulk of events being held between October and April and do not take into account the possibility of a professional basketball or hockey team.

Gelardi also would not speculate on what would be done if the dome site is developed and the current parking lots accounted for there would no longer be available.

'Certainly there will have been other changes in the resort district that are going to change the demands on the parking resources available and, so, we'll just have to evaluate it at that time,' Gelardi said.

Sessoms said he wasn't opposed to spending more public money to build a parking garage but said he would like to see it built between the Oceanfront and the arena.

Sessoms said he is encouraged by the $200 million from private investors which would be used to build the actual arena. He said that money justifies the city spending $52 million to prepare the site.

'If you can get four dollars for one dollar, that is usually a pretty good investment,' Sessoms said.

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