RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads is one step closer to a new arena.
The Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would provide funds for an arena in Norfolk.
This comes just a few weeks after a Virginia delegate proposed all seven Hampton Roads cities work together for an arena to serve the entire region.
The Scope arena in Norfolk can hold about 10,000 people and the Hampton Coliseum can pack in around 9,700, but government leaders want to build an arena to hold a lot more — about 15,000 seats.
It’s something officials say the region lacks. And it’s now a little closer to actually happening.
“It’s a tremendous step forward for a very important concept, you know Mayor Alexander has made this a priority, talked about it for a couple of years,” explained Senator Lynwood Lewis, the bill’s patron. “I was very happy to help that move forward and make it a reality.”
Are big shows passing by Hampton Roads? Government leaders seem to think so.
“So, we are missing shows here that we otherwise would be getting. So, we have a great portfolio of outdoor entertainment venues and we’re kind of missing an indoor venue,” said Norfolk City Manager Larry “Chip” Filer.
A state-of-the-art 15,000-seat arena could change that.
The Senate committee’s vote was unanimous. The bill would allow state funds to help finance the arena in Norfolk.
There’s a very similar bill introduced in the House of Delegates. That bill focuses on a regional effort to bring an arena to Hampton Roads.
“Well, obviously, practically a region can only handle one facility of this size. For market share purposes,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, the patron of the Senate bill.
He believes the Norfolk-centric option has a better shot at coming to fruition.
“And so I think they would be able to move faster, and to get it done faster, and I also think that they would again be in a position just by the location, you know the role the city plays in the region, it would be a logical place for this arena to be located,” Lewis said.
The Norfolk-centric bill will go before the full Senate for a vote next week — so it’s advancing faster then the regional option.
So, where could an arena of this size go?
“Really everything is on the table. We have not included or excluded any possible locations,” Filer said.
Regardless of which bill passes and which city an arena is built in — the project is anticipated to benefit all of Hampton Roads.
A possible timeline for construction is still too far in the future for officials to speculate.