VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Comcast-Spectacor and their partners will make a proposal for a large arena to Virginia Beach City Council Tuesday evening.
In light of Tuesday's presentation and the many previous arena proposals in Hampton Roads, WAVY.com decided to research whether the community could adequately support a major league sports team and whether the community could fork over the tax dollars to build the arena in the first place.
Virginia Beach Councilman Bill DeSteph says there is not enough interest in current sports teams to support what could be an up to $400 million sports/entertainment arena.
"The hockey team in Norfolk won the equivalent of the Stanley Cup," DeSteph said. "There were still seats to be had and they were giving tickets away."
The possibility of extending Norfolk's light rail to Virginia Beach also brings up funding issues for Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, who says light rail and an arena are mutually exclusive events.
"First of all, light rail comes from a different pot of money," Sessoms said. "There has to be a funding mechanism which would be federal money. If that funding mechanism is not there, light rail will not occur."
Here's the reality check for hotel-motel operators,
Hotel operator Verne Burlage says he is opposed to increased sales taxes on Beach hotel rooms to pay for the arena.
"I am all for it. It will be a boom for this area, and change the face of Virginia Beach," Burlage, who is also President of the Hotel-Motel Association, said. "No one has told me that [room sales taxes would increase], and I have not heard that from any political figure or anyone in the industry."
Sessoms has suggested the possibility of using tax money as well as other revenue sources if necessary.
"I would look for help from the Commonwealth, from special tax districts at the oceanfront, perhaps an increase on the tax on hotel rooms and ticket sale revenues which could be huge," Sessoms said.
Another reality check on the project is what the arena partners and the sports team owners would put back into the community.
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