The Virginia Beach City Council this afternoon is set to hear a proposal for a new arena, but Council member Bill DeSteph said that there "is not enough interest in current sports teams to support what could be an up to $400 million sports/entertainment arena," according to Andy Fox of WAVY.com. DeSteph said the AHL Norfolk Admirals "won the equivalent of the Stanley Cup," yet there were "still seats to be had and they were giving tickets away." Virginia Beach Mayor Bill Sessoms said, "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" (WAVY.com, 8/28). The NBA Kings have been linked to the arena plan, to which Council member John Moss said, "If they're coming to tell us they're using their own money, I'm ecstatic. But if they want free land or any other money, I'm not the least bit interested." Moss added that he thinks arena proponents "will have a difficult time persuading a majority of the 11-member council to support the plan if it involves public assistance." Council member James Wood said, "I think (the region) could support a pro sports team; I just don't know if it would make sense for us. These projects require a pretty healthy public subsidy, and I just don't know that Virginia Beach is ready to step up and do that" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/28). A poll of Hampton Roads, Va., metropolitan-area residents indicated that 49% believe "there isn't a strong enough fan base" to support an NBA team (DAILYPRESS.com, 8/28).
A LITTLE TOO QUIET: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes, "This is only the latest chapter in the simmering Kings arena/relocation drama that will persist into the upcoming season, perhaps into subsequent seasons, and is sure to involve at least another half-dozen or more cities." Kings co-Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof "need to show something." Voisin: "Scream. Shout. Sob. Throw a temper tantrum. Tell their critics to jump off a building. Do something, anything, to demonstrate that they haven't fled the market." The Maloofs' "silence on this Virginia Beach situation is killing them." Voisin: "An emphatic denial would have temporarily tabled the relocation issue, and in effect directed attention toward the upcoming season" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/28).
The Blue Jackets yesterday began installing at Nationwide Arenathe "crown jewel" in this summer’s $6.4M renovation project: "a state-of-the-art, high-definition scoreboard that dwarfs the old model in both size and capability,” according to Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The new scoreboard, built by Daktronics, will “have 2,630 square feet of viewing space vs. the old one’s 576 square feet, a 357 percent increase.” The main board on each of the four sides “will be 25 feet wide and 15.5 feet high,” and will be “all in high-definition.” The ribbon boards that wrap around the rink “will be lengthened and upgraded to high-definition,” allowing the staff to “provide real-time information to fans, such as which players are on the ice and updated statistics for each player.” The project is “to be completed Sept. 15, one week before Blue Jackets training camp is scheduled to open.” Franklin County (Ohio) Convention Facilities Authority “spent nearly all of a $7 million capital-improvements fund to upgrade Nationwide.” The new scoreboard “required a bigger control room and significant technical upgrades.” Of the $5.86M spent on the scoreboard, roughly $2.5M "was for the devices to control it.” There were other projects this summer “funded by the authority’s capital-improvements fund; they included new dasher boards and glass around the rink ($190,000) and upgrades to the ice plant ($39,495).” FCCFA Exec Dir Bill Jennison said that within “two years, all the seats in Nationwide will be replaced.” But Portzline wrote the “star of the show is the scoreboard” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/27).
Memphis city planners are “hoping a sports-based attraction at the Mid-South Fairgrounds could draw thousands of athletes” to the Midtown site across from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, according to Amos Maki of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The plan now under study by Memphis Housing & Community Development Division Dir Robert Lipscomb and O.T. Marshall Architects “would raze the Mid-South Coliseum and replace it with ‘tournament level’ baseball diamonds and a new multipurpose indoor facility in a parklike setting.” The planners predict that the people “who use the proposed sports complex would support an ‘urban village’ with retail stores, restaurants and possibly a hotel or convention space.” The plan calls for the $148M project “to be financed by sales taxes generated from a Tourist Development Zone -- along with sponsorships, naming rights and land leases from the retail development.” Lipscomb will present “detailed plans for the Fairgrounds to the Memphis City Council in September.” The council is “scheduled to vote Sept. 4 on a resolution accepting the donation of Shelby County's interest in the Coliseum and Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.” Lipscomb said that the “promise of activity created by the sports complex and possible tournaments could make the retail portion more attractive to developers” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/28).
Atlanta Hall Management interim President & CEO John Stephenson, whose group will oversee operations of a College Football HOF in downtown Atlanta, said yesterday that “the project is on schedule to open by the end of 2014 and will have an economic impact of more than $12.7 million annually,” according to Leon Stafford of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Stephenson “didn't say when work will begin,” but added that he “told state legislators that AHM needs to finish working on engineering plans for the building, its budget and negotiations with banks on construction costs ‘before we have our final top-line budget.’” Stafford writes the project was “announced to great fanfare in September 2009.” Stephenson in February told Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau leaders that AHM was “reassessing the entire project, examining everything from expected annual attendance to the size of the facility.” AHM in April “presented its findings to the National Football Foundation, which owns the rights to the facility.” Stephenson yesterday told legislators that AHM “has secured about $42.5 million in commitments for the project, with some of the donors coming from out of state.” When Stephenson was “pressed to name a few, he declined” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/28).