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Four sites pitched for new Richmond arena

Virginia Squires

With the Richmond Coliseum in need of some serious renovations, city officials now have before them four potential sites for a new arena, but there’s nothing close to the form of a game plan.

Richmond is facing some issues with its sporting facilities: the Coliseum is not large enough and not in particularly good shape; its ballpark, The Diamond, is also huge and not in particularly good shape. It’s pretty clear that the The Diamond will be replaced in coming years; some want to see a new arena involved in those discussions, creating an entertainment district in the North Boulevard area.

Which is why North Boulevard was included on a list of four potential sites for a new arena, which also includes three downtown sites (including the existing Coliseum site). Barnett Sports Group came up with recommendations on sites and arena size after discussions with city and business leaders and surveys of local residents. The current Coliseum seats 10,385 for concerts and less for sporting events; that’s too large for the likes of minor-league hockey and too small for concerts and NCAA tournaments. That’s why Barnett recommended a seating size of 14,000-15,000, with up to 25 luxury suites and over 600 club seats. While we don’t foresee NBA or NHL hockey coming to Richmond, a new arena would surely interest the AHL or the ECHL, we’re guessing.

Of course, selecting some sites and recommending an arena size are easy acts; coming up with a financial game plan is the considerably more difficult feat. So far the arena talk is just that: talk. Still, with the clear signals from City Hall that something must be done on the facilities front, we’re thinking some sort of plan will emerge in the next six months.

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