Time for the next step, as Virginia Beach continues it’s quest to build a new 18,000 seat arena and lure the NBA Kings from Sacramento as the building’s anchor tenant.
Tomorrow, December 11th, the Beach City Council is expected to vote overwhelmingly to continue negotiations on the project giving state leaders the confidence that from a local level, everybody is on board.
City leaders including Virginia Beach councilman Glenn Davis and the city’s finance director Patti Phillips traveled to Dallas late last week to continue talks with Comcast-Spectacor, along with Kevin Taylor the project manager at consultant HKS, Inc. On it’s website, HKS quoted Sims Hinds, managing director of HKS World Events as saying, “We believe that Virginia Beach and Southeastern Virginia represents the last untapped major sports and entertainment market in the country.”
HKS World Events has been working with the Virginia Beach Development Authority on the arena project for more than two and a half years. HKS designed the new Cowboys Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, along with NBA arenas in Dallas and Indianapolis.
But all the talking in the world is not going to come up with the money needed to build the arena and pay moving expenses for the Kings.
Next up, trying to convince members of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly to kick in $150 million to help with the costs.
The state session begins on January 9th. Because the request for state money came in so late, it was not included in the budget introduced by Gov. Bob McDonnell. So now it is up to local Delegates and Senators to submit a budget amendment to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees. That must be done by Friday, January 4th. Local Senator Frank Wagner is expected to carry the legislation to Richmond but neither he nor Beach Senator Jeff McWaters have yet to endorse it. Delegates Ron Villanueva, Chris Stolle, Sal Iaquinto, and Bob Purkey are believed to have been briefed on the proposal but none of them have made any public comment.
Longtime Delegate Bob Tata, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was quoted by Aaron Applegate in the Virginian Pilot last month calling the arena concept, “pie in the sky.” But sources say skepticism by the local delegation in Hampton Roads came before they were given details of the proposal.
After the budget amendment has been submitted, it will have to go before a subcommittee, then the House Appropriations Committee, and then to the entire House of Delegates before it can be adopted. When, and in this case (a big) if this happens, the House budget is sent to the Senate for consideration.
One noticeable stumbling point in the state request may be that Virginia Beach wants to use $80 million of the $150 million to pay the owners of the Kings for moving costs, the anticipated 30 million dollars demanded by the other NBA owners in what they call a “relocation fee”, and loss of revenue the team expects to suffer while having to play in smaller arena’s in Virginia during the two years it will take to build the new building at the beach.
Negotiators may be better served finding another way to come up with the $80 million for the team–using the state money instead for construction and other costs.
Asking for state funds to pay the owners of the Kings George and Gavin Maloff, may be a deal breaker, and this deal is fragile enough.
It’s doubtful the arena can be built without help from the state, so the support of local legislators and eventually law makers from around the state are going to be paramount for this to happen.
Next Tuesday, the newly formed Citizen Communications Committee for the proposed project will hold a public Town Hall meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to gather input from citizens.
So while the arena and the relocation of the Kings is far from being a done deal, it will all be over soon one way or another. The state General Assembly session is only 45 days long, meaning it ends February 23rd.
And the many people associated with the project that I have talked to say there does not seem to be a chance the arena can be built without both the state money and without a long term lease signed by the Kings.