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Bill Could Facilitate New Hampton Roads Arena

Norfolk Scope

Under legislation proposed by a Virginia lawmaker, a newly created authority would lead the construction of a new Hampton Roads arena.

Hampton Roads–which includes cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach–is currently served by aging venues, including the Hampton Coliseum and Scope Arena (pictured above) in downtown Norfolk. There have been various unsuccessful efforts in recent years to construct a new arena in the area, with Virginia Beach taking a serious look at the possibility before those plans fell through.

A regional approach could be taken to construct a new arena, under the terms of legislation proposed by delegate Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach’s 82nd District. His proposal calls for establishing the Hampton Roads Regional Arena Authority, which would have the power to issue debt to construct the new arena and retain state taxes generated by the venue to help pay off its construction costs. If approved, the authority would be tasked with determining a location within Hampton Roads to build an arena of at least 15,000 seats.

The bill would require approval to move forward, but its proposal comes at a point where some elected officials in the region believe that there is a need for a more modern venue that can draw events that Hampton Roads is currently missing out on because of inadequate facilities. More from The Virginian-Pilot:

Called the Hampton Roads Regional Arena Authority and appointed by the governor, the proposed body would have the ability to issue debt to fund construction, retain state taxes generated by the facility to repay the cost of building and pass along additional revenue to whichever localities throw in on the project. This mirrored authorization given to Virginia Beach’s pursuit of an arena a few years back.

The regional body would also determine the location of the arena, which the bill says would need to be at least 15,000 seats and be able to host sporting events, conferences and concerts or other entertainment. Any Hampton Roads locality could participate.

“We have to explore every opportunity we have that will bring wealth to the region, especially if it might involve Virginia Beach and Norfolk,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said.

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander made the same point that arena boosters said about the Beach’s failed project: The region is missing out on major entertainment events that just don’t have anywhere big enough in Virginia to perform.

The Scope opened in 1971, with nearby Hampton Coliseum arriving on the scene two years earlier. Both are currently used for concerts and other touring events, with the Scope also serving as home to hockey’s Norfolk Admirals (ECHL).

Image courtesy Norfolk Admirals.

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