VB delegate wants cities to ‘work together’ to build an arena

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a renewed effort to bring a large arena to Hampton Roads, with “regionalism” front and center.

Del. Jason Miyares, (R-Virginia Beach), has proposed the creation of the Hampton Roads Regional Arena Authority for the sole purpose of constructing and financing a world-class arena.

“I was tired of Hampton Roads missing out,” Miyares said. “We are the largest metropolitan area in the country without a major arena and I think it’s high time we get moving on it.”

Currently, Norfolk’s Scope is the largest arena in the region. While it has recently been home to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament, it’s less than 11,000-person seating capacity limits the acts that come.

House Bill 1102 would require an arena with a seating capacity of at least 15,000 to be built.

However, where it would be built would be up to the authority.

The bill calls for the authority to be made up of 15 members appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. There would have to be one member from each of Hampton Roads’ seven cities plus the City of Poquoson and James City, York, Isle of Wight, Gloucester and Mathews counties.

The authority would also determine how to share in costs and revenues of an arena.

“Lay that framework that we can have Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and other localities. Come together and put together these big projects that at the end of the day improve the quality of life for our area,” Miyares said.

Both Norfolk and Virginia Beach have expressed interest in the development of an arena.

In his 2019 State of the City address, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander directed the city manager to start looking into how the development of an arena could be possible.

Virginia Beach had plans — including an approved agreement with a developer — for an 18,000-seat arena at the Oceanfront. However after a bitter breakup with the developer in 2018, the plans have since only been discussed in open court.

“We fully support the vision, as we have for multiple years now, for a world class arena in this area,” said Andrea Kilmer, CEO of ESG Companies, referring to Miyares’ bill.

Mayor Kenny Alexander declined to comment on the idea.

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