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Richmond ECHL Team Could Play at Proposed Arena

Richmond Coliseum redevelopment rendering

A proposed Richmond arena could land a minor-league hockey team if it is built, as an effort to place a Richmond ECHL team at the venue is underway.

Discussions have been taking place on a proposed downtown Richmond redevelopment plan from NH District Corp, a group led by Dominion Energy CEO Thomas F. Farrell II. As part of that $1.5 billion redevelopment, the aging Richmond Coliseum would be replaced by a new 17,500-seat arena that would likely be used as a draw for sports and other events.

While that concept remains under discussion, there is an effort underway for the venue to host an ECHL team. Fred Festa, who held the controlling interest in the Greenville Swamp Rabbits from 2012 until the ECHL signed off on a transfer to new owners in 2018, has confirmed his interest in controlling the prospective team, while the ECHL has reportedly endorsed placing a club at the arena. When discussing the effort, Festa cited the potential of both the arena plan and the Richmond market. More from NBC 12:

The ECHL just endorsed locating a team in the new proposed Navy Hill arena….

New prospective team owner Fred Festa says despite having multiple location options in other cities, Richmond is his top choice.

“We got everything here to make this thing a success,” said potential prospective team owner, Fred Festa.

Whether the arena plan moves forward remains to be seen, as it continues to get some push back from some members the Richmond City Council, which has been expected to issue a final vote on the plan in late February. There has been a recent slate of potential changes to the plan, including the introduction of proposed legislation at the state level that would effectively shrink the tax increment financing district used to pay off the public components of the initiative. The proposed scope of the new arena positions it to the largest of its kind in the state of Virginia.

Rendering courtesy NH District Corp.

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