Virginia Beach, Va. (WAVY) - Comcast-Spectacor made a proposal for a large arena to the City of Virginia Beach City Council Tuesday afternoon calling Hampton Roads an "untapped resource."
The meeting consisted of presentations by Warren Harris, director of economic development for the City of Virginia Beach and Peter Luukko, CEO of Comcast-Spectacor.
Harris spent the first half-hour of the presentation comparing southeast Virginia with Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Oklahoma City is now the home of the National Basketball Association's Oklahoma City Thunder. Warren says southeast Virginia has a larger population of more than 3 million people and a larger income per capita than Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Harris said approximately 10 Fortune 500 companies are ready to become partners if the arena were to become a reality.
Luukko told the council he thinks the Hampton Roads area is one of the most underserved areas of the country regarding large-entertainment arenas. Luukko called the area an "untapped resource" and said Comcast-Spectacor is very familiar with the Hampton Roads area.
Luukko said the company would lease, operate and program the arena. Additionally, he said the company would pursue a professional sports team franchise.
According to Luukko, the company is committed to a 25-year lease, hosting 200 events annually and bringing 1.4 million visitors to the arena per year. It is estimated the arena would bring 1,230 net jobs to the Hampton Roads area and generate $98 million in its inaugural year, 2015.
Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said the company's commitment to a 25-year lease is "huge."
The proposed site for the 800,000-square-foot arena would be close to the Virginia Beach Convention Center at the Oceanfront.
Harris told the council the next step for the arena would creating a financing strategy and starting to develop a proposal with the council's permission.
Beach council member Bill DeSteph pressed Harris and Luukko on arena financing. He said he was behind the arena if he could see how it would be financed. DeSteph also called for a referendum regarding the arena.
The NBA's Sacramento Kings, rumored to be moving due to the lack of financing for a new arena, have been been brought up as a possible major league sports team to play in the arena, but the Kings' owners have said they have not spoken to Virginia Beach.
"We are in no discussions with any team," Luukko told WAVY.com "Let me be very clear. This is preliminary. First, you have to see if this project is feasible, can it be built, what can it be built for. We are just getting started. We are very positive but we've got a ways to go"
DeSteph said comparing the market size of 3 million people in Hampton Roads and Richmond to Sacramento, San Francisco and Fresno (a market totaling more than 10 million) is not fair.
Regarding entertainment centers already in the area, Harris says the goal is not to shift acts to the proposed arena but rather to bring other acts that would not perform in the area without a large entertainment facility.
Sessoms told the council he would like to see plans for the arena move forward.
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