Richmond, Virginia’s Mayor Thinks An Arena Is The Key To Redevelopment

no major tennant.

Richmond, Virginia is not in the running for a National Basketball Association expansion franchise, not that the NBA has announced any expansion plans nor is it in line to get an NBA franchise owner’s attention should it become time for an owner to look to another city. The same can be said for a National Hockey League franchise. No one in the NHL is looking to set up shop in Richmond, Virginia. But there are plans to build a 17,000 seat arena to replace the 48-year-old Richmond Coliseum. The Richmond idea is get private investors, in this case the Navy Hill District Corp, and form a private-public partnership to build an arena and use the facility as an anchor for a redevelopment of an eight block area. Richmond owns that property.

A new arena would be a lure for get big name bands along with college basketball tournaments to come through Richmond again according to the plan’s biggest backer the city’s mayor Levar Stoney. The arena would be the biggest in Virginia and would be surrounded by housing, a hotel and dozens of new restaurants if all went according to the plan. How to pay for demolition of the Richmond Coliseum which is situated in the eight block zone and all of the new construction is a problem. Stoney contends that the arena and the development will not only pay for itself but also other city services will benefit. It appears that Stoney wants to create a tax increment financing district. The plan would get rid of the Coliseum, city office buildings and parking lots and build a new downtown. Richmond would invest $350 million into an arena. Richmond would get $900 million in private money for the village part. Then city officials have to hope the village would generate a great deal of revenue.  It is a huge bet with huge risks.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)