In order for a new arena to be constructed in Grand Junction, voters will have approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase.
An April referendum will give Grand Junction voters the authority to decide whether the city can raise its 2.75% sales tax to cover an arena. The tax increase, if approved, would take effect in July, and the city has estimated that it could leverage $4 million annually to cover a project that includes a new 5,200-seat arena and an overhaul to the existing Two Rivers Convention Center.
According to the city, no more than $65 million in debt will be issued for the arena, and the total repayments over 30 years would not exceed $134 million. While the venue would be constructed with the intent to bolster Grand Junction’s event offerings and boost downtown development, backers of the project believe that a either a minor league hockey franchise or a team in the NBA Development League (D-League) could be one of the main attractions for the arena.
Leading up to the referendum, however, those for and against the venue will be making their case. More from The Daily Sentinel:
With its proximity to Grand Junction’s downtown hotels and restaurants, the project over 30 years could create about 400 new jobs, with 200 to 240 of those positions becoming permanent, proponents say.
An additional 80,000 new visitors a year would create an additional $30 million in annual spending — or nearly $1 billion over 30 years.
Downtown hotel owners Steve and Kevin Reimer have said if an events center is built they will create a new, fourth hotel in Grand Junction’s core. They possibly will create a fifth hotel off Ute Avenue. Proponents say the increase in foot traffic in the downtown will increase sales at local businesses and restaurants.
Skeptics, though, harbor a host of concerns and doubts. Some believe assumptions and projections about spending and event attendance in the feasibility study are too optimistic. They fear the building will sit empty too often and require a significant taxpayer subsidy, much like Two Rivers has over the years. And they say the city has more pressing needs that need attention.
An October 2016 report from Hunden Strategic Partners weighed the ECHL and D-League as possible options. It found that the “Denver Nuggets could be an opportunity for an affiliated NBA D-League team, although it is not clear if the Grand Junction market could support two minor league teams. The ECHL has expressed a desire to be in the market and there appears to be an appetite by the market for the ECHL.”
The referendum is scheduled for April 4.