Legislation to give Virginia Beach additional flexibility to finance a sports and entertainment arena cleared a critical step Wednesday when the powerful Senate Finance Committee approved the measure.
The revised version of Beach Republican Del. Ron Villanueva’s HB 2320  would allow the city to issue bonds to build an arena and use income and sales tax revenue raised there to repay the debt.
Receiving state authorization to recapture those proceeds “would be another tool in the tool box,” Beach Finance Director Patricia Phillips told committee members.
“We don’t have a project yet,” she added, explaining the city “likes to plan ahead” and Villanueva’s bill would be “important to the success of an arena without or without a team.”
Testifying in support of the bill, Beach lobbyist Bob Matthias said the Hampton Roads market is the nation’s largest without a major sports team and because of its size is an attractive site for concerts and the like.
Matthias said a handful of other sizable American cities have successful arenas that don’t host a professional teams and are still booked between 110 and 160 nights per year.
The city recently missed out on landing a National Basketball Association team during a round of negotiations with potential partners in venture to bring a pro team to the area.
Before the bill advanced, Sen. Henry Marsh, R-Richmond, questioned how fiscally sound the idea of building an arena is, noting other cities have “built facilities at great expense and ended up losing money.”
Villanueva’s bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
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