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Savannah Looks for Arena Funding

Arena Digest

Officials in Savannah, GA continue to consider the possibility of constructing a new arena, and are monitoring what could be a key funding source.

As part of a project that could include new recreational space, Savannah is discussing the construction of an arena west of downtown. A key component in funding the project is the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST 6). Starting in October 2014, a one-percent sales tax was put into effect for six years, and a report released at the end of March found that it has since exceeded $155 million in revenue–coming in above the projected amount of $132 million.

Part of the agreement for the SPLOST 6 calls for Chatham County to turn over $190 million of the projected $370 million in revenue over the six-year span to Savannah. Once it has those funds in place, Savannah would divert $105 million to the arena project, and could add more funds if the countywide SPLOST 6 revenue surpasses $385 million.

The revenue obtained countywide, combined with the nearly $80 million in SPLOST 6 revenues Savannah has earned to date, could bode well for the project. However, more revenue will need to be raised, as other costs have to be considered. More from the Savannah Morning News:

Last May, the city’s hired consultant, Barrett Sports Group, reported it would cost about $140 million to construct a facility that would accommodate up to 9,300 patrons for hockey, basketball, boxing, concerts and other events. That amount does not include development of the surrounding “Canal District,” demolishing the existing arena or the estimated $20 million cost of relocating city departments from the new arena site.

Barrett Sports Group is developing recommendations for the area around the arena where the city hopes to lure private investment. The consultant’s report is expected to be presented to the Savannah City Council this month, Assistant City Manager Peter Shonka recently told the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority.

Among the recommendations is a park the size of Daffin Park, as well as multi-use recreational fields, Shonka said.

“I think there is going to be a lot going on in that area,” he said.

Current projections estimate that the county will receive $394 million in the SPLOST revenue, yielding Savannah an extra $9 million for an arena project.