VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - NBA team or not, some business leaders in Virginia Beach think an arena could support itself.
One city official says he has to turn clients away because there is no venue big enough for their prospective events.
The proposed 18,500-seat arena would be built on land near the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Construction depends on the $150 million in funding the city council has requested from the state.
There are two main groups city officials would like to cash in on: faith-based groups, who hold arena assemblies and amateur sporting events. ACC tournament officials have already expressed interest in using the arena.
The city marketing team says large events, such as the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, are just the tip of the moneymaking iceberg. They say an arena would allow for much more.
"We feel we have a good chance, if the arena is built, to bring some of those amateur sporting events to Virginia Beach," Vice President of Convention Sales and Marketing at the Convention and Visitors Bureau Al Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said events like U.S. figure skating championships, regional basketball tournaments and arena lacrosse are all examples of what Virginia Beach is missing out on.
"The real challenge right now is we can't even talk with some of these groups without an arena," Hutchinson said. "They're meeting in the cities, like the San Jose's of the world, the Omaha, Nebraska's and we feel we have a similar product and we could go after those groups."
The other big markets Hutchinson would like to bring to the Beach are faith-based groups, who hold arena assemblies.
Steve Kelly, Pastor at WAVE church, says he knows big names like televangelist Joel Osteen could fill the arena and have expressed interest in doing so.
"I've talked to Joel Osteen and let him know that this is an arena that could possibly be built here," said Kelly. "He [Osteen] said he would love to make use of that, and consider using it, as well as Joyce Meyer."
From a business standpoint, Hutchinson says amateur sports and faith-based groups are attractive clients because they would use both the arena and the convention center simultaneously, and stay for several days at a time.
"It would definitely be a game changer if the arena were to happen," Hutchinson said.
Many citizens worry city officials overestimate the revenue an arena would bring. At Tuesday's arena town hall meeting, citizens expressed concern about how the city is going to pay for the project.
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms says the city must have a firm commitment from the unnamed NBA team, before Jan. 9, when the General Assembly convenes.
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A 24-year-old man is accused of fleeing as troopers tried to initiate a traffic stop in Hampton Friday.
Hampton fire crews battled a residential structure fire early Friday morning.