Now that Oak View Group (OVG) and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have unveiled their concept for a new Palm Springs arena, all eyes are turning to the project’s planning process.
Late last month, the plans for the proposed Palm Spring arena were revealed, with the facility to primarily host a potential AHL expansion team and concerts. The privately financed facility would be constructed on tribal land in downtown Palm Springs and open in 2021. Under the current plans, the arena could seat as many as 10,000, with the project to include an adjoining facility that will double as a year-round community gathering space and a training center for the AHL team.
With its scope, the arena would serve multiple purposes in the sports and entertainment industries. OVG and NHL Seattle have jointly submitted an application for the AHL expansion team which, if approved, would lead to the club beginning play in the 2021-22 season. While Palm Springs had previously been identified as a leading option for the potential AHL expansion team, it currently lacks a suitable arena, so the proposed venue would give it the facility it needs to support minor-league hockey.
Another significant component of the project is it plans for hosting live entertainment. Live Nation Entertainment is serving as a partner in the proposal, with the role of supplying the venue with live events that could include concerts and more.
While some key details about the arena are public, there are some outstanding tasks remaining and the proposal continues to prompt debate locally. As was announced last week, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indiansis preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. The Tribal EIS–in compliance with the Agua Caliente Tribal Environmental Policy Act–will consider the implications the proposal would have on several issues, with its potential effects on air quality, transportation/traffic and utilities, energy, water, among the numerous areas the report will explore.
There are also worries locally about how the proposal would affect traffic and parking in the area, while a recent Desert Sun story delved into the possible economic implications of a new arena. Since the Palm Spring arena is privately financed, the debate over economics is not about any government funding, but instead over whether the venue will play a meaningful role in drawing tourism dollars, among other issues.
Debate is likely to continue over whether the arena will be a major player in boosting tourism to the area, and its economic implications will not be known for years. However, Palm Springs is in a very transient area that serves as a popular snowbird destination and the Coachella Valley region is a major draw for tourists—the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is among its most notable offerings—so arena backers will surely position the venue to be a draw for visitors with its broad slate of events.
Backers of the arena project have plenty of work to do to bring the facility to fruition, and it will surely draw continued discussion over its potential effect on the area’s traffic, parking, and economy. Time will tell how those issues will play out, but for now the project that is taking shape could provide an interesting example of how to blend a sports and entertainment venue into an area with a competitive tourism landscape.
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