Details on a proposal for renovating U.S. Bank Arena have been unveiled, with the plan calling for over $300 million in tax revenues and public ownership.
There has been much discussion over the potential of renovating U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati’s main indoor venue and current home of hockey’s Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Arena officials have been hoping to secure an overhaul to the venue, which is slated to host 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games, provided that a renovation takes place.
U.S. Arena owner/operator Nederalander Entertainment is now proposing a funding model for the project. The latest terms call for a $370 million overhaul, with $313 million funded through an extended quarter-cent sales tax that is currently being used for a Union Terminal renovation. Funds from the extended tax, which would have to be approved by voters, would be joined by revenue generated from several sources, including arena events ($34 million), county parking ($14 million), and city admissions tax ($9 million). That plan also calls for the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to use $35 to $40 million from the extended sales tax to purchase U.S. Bank Arena. Nederalander would then operate the arena, and enter into a lease with the Cyclones.
If completed, the renovation would overhaul several aspects of the facility, increasing its seating capacity while widening its concourses, and providing it with expanded locker rooms, additional suites, and an improved exterior. Nederalander says that if the project moves forward, the current U.S. Bank Arena structure could be demolished and rebuilt in two years. When it comes to funding, however, some elected officials are expressing their doubts. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:
Ray Harris, COO of Nederlander Entertainment, which owns and operates the arena, said Thursday in a sit-down interview with The Enquirer that the $370 million rebuild would tear the current structure down to the existing pad and take two years. It could bring events such as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to the city.
The proposal, however, met with immediate skepticism from officials whose support would be critical to making it a reality. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said Thursday evening he hadn’t heard details of Nederlander’s plan and is focused on taking a bigger look at all the region’s needs.
“We’ve all been pretty firm, we’re not looking at any sales tax financing of U.S. Bank Arena,” Portune said.
U.S. Bank Arena is not the only facility being debated by area officials at this time. As part of its MLS expansion bid, FC Cincinnati is proposing a private-public partnership for the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium, but it remains to be seen whether that plan will come to fruition.
U.S. Bank Arena originally opened as Riverfront Coliseum in 1975.
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