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Pensacola Bay Center’s Future up for Debate

Pensacola Bay Center

Some are wondering if the time has to come to replace the Pensacola Bay Center, Pensacola’s indoor venue for major events. 

The Pensacola Bay Center opened in 1985, and has hosted several sports franchises along the way, including the Southern Professional Hockey League’s (SPHL) Pensacola Ice Flyers since 2009. Citing the venue’s aging amenities for sporting events, shows, conferences, and performances, some officials believe that it is time to take a closer look at replacing the venue.

Officials from both the City of Pensacola and Escambia County have been briefed on some possibilities in recent months, including a proposal to demolish the existing Pensacola Bay Center and replace it with a more modern venue. Pensacola Sports and Visit Pensacola has outlined the project, which has been estimated to cost in the range of $80 to $100 million, but some funding specifics will need to finalized along the way.

In a column published over the weekend, Bill Vilona of the Pensacola News Journal stated that the condition of the Pensacola Bay Center is a reason that discussions about its future need to continue:

Whether you were among the estimated 30,000-plus this weekend who packed the aged arena for Pensacon, or you’ve gone to a Pensacola Ice Flyers game, your son or daughter’s graduation ceremony, a concert, a trade show, Disney on Ice or anything else, you’ve seen the unsightly issues.

Where do you start? The acoustics, the lighting, the plumbing, the wiring, the bathrooms, the concessions? I could keep going. The list is endless.

So this much is certain: This building either needs razed or renovated. It needs to be torn down with a far better facility going up next to it, or in that spot.

I know there are plenty of people who may scream against the idea. But here’s the deal, you can’t keep putting masking tape and Band-Aids on this place. You can’t just keep tabling the idea.

In previous meetings, officials have discussed whether Triumph Gulf Coast funds could be used for such a project. During a presentation in December, some county officials emphasized the need for private investment in a new facility, according to the News Journal.

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