Virginia Beach wants to build a new arena – and they want Virginia taxpayers to help them.
The city would contribute $195 million. The state will be asked for $150 million, of which $70 million would be for the arena, and Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that would lease and operate the arena and is working to recruit the pro sports team, would put in $35 million.
So, the company that came a’calling for the new arena, is only willing to put up less than 10% of the proposed $380 million cost. The rest of the money is to come from taxpayers.
If Virginia Beach wants to waste its money on something like this, I say go for it. But don’t ask me to help pay for it. Heck, I didn’t support it when Norfolk was chasing a similar pipe dream.
The responses of members of the local General Assembly delegation are all over the board. But some are showing some common sense.
Del. Bob Tata of Virginia Beach, an appropriations committee member, called the arena concept “pie in the sky.”
“This is a beer and pretzel town,” he said. “Realistically, if I had to vote on it, I’d vote no. I just can’t see. Pro sports, it’s a tough racket. It’s here today, gone tomorrow.”
“My initial response is, I’m not in favor of it,” said Del. Chris Jones of Suffolk, also an appropriations committee member. “In tight economic times, taking away from other core functions of government, I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do.”
Jones is dead on. There is no “extra” money in the state budget for such frivolous things as an arena. The localities have been under tremendous financial pressure these last few years, as the money allocated from the state has been reduced. If there is an extra $150 million lying around, I’d much prefer it go to the localities to help restore the lost funding, particularly to the schools.
I urge the General Assembly to just say no to this request.