Project backers have unveiled a proposed Pensacola arena and related development that, if it moves forward, could accommodate an NBA Gatorade League (G League) team.
Pensacola, FL is one of the cities in the running to land an upcoming New Orleans Pelicans‘ franchise in the G League. A group that includes businessman Jay Patel and seven companies is proposing a $65 to $80 million arena and field house would be included in a mixed-use development.
That plan includes a 6,500-seat arena that would be designed to host both basketball and hockey, as well as other events, and could serve as a replacement for the existing Pensacola Bay Center. Additionally, the project is being considered for one of two different sites, including the location of the Pensacola Bay Center or the site of the former Emerald Coast Utilities Authority’s downtown sewage treatment plant. The proposal is expected to receive more discussion during a Escambia County Commissioners meeting on Thursday, but some of the financial details have been revealed. More from The Pensacola News Journal:
One of the seven companies that Patel has brought together is Hunt Development Group, a Texas-based international investment company that would provide the up-front money for the project. That funding would have to be repaid by the county through a 30-year lease agreement.
On top of paying back that debt, the county would also be responsible for the arena and field house’s operational shortfalls each year, just as it is now with the Pensacola Bay Center. The Bay Center operated at a loss of $1.3 million in the 2017 fiscal year.
“The commissioners will make a decision on how that debt will be paid,” Patel said. “That’s probably what’s coming up during the agenda review.” Using data from the Crossroads study extrapolated over 30 years, Patel’s presentation argues the development would pay for itself with indirect and induced annual spending of more than $90 million by 2049.
“It’s time to replace it (the Bay Center.) The study supports it,” Patel said. “We wouldn’t have embarked on this project if the study hadn’t come back very positive and the economic impact it brings to the community.”
Furthermore, the plan calls for the county to seek $25 million from Triumph Gulf Coast to cover some of the debt, while Patel’s group would apply for new market tax credits. The plan also projects the new Pensacola arena would be ready in time for the 2019 basketball season.
As noted Pensacola was initially one of several cities in the mix, with Shreveport, LA appearing to be its main competitor in recent months. Shreveport officials, however, voted against a measure relating to the city’s proposal in September.
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