From Pine View Farm

Beach Babbitry Bumbles on 0

The Virginia Beach city fathers are continuing their attempts to convince the citizenry that Virginia Beach needs nothing more than a sports palace to achieve civic nirvana, as the potential costs proliferate (many more details at the link):

Details of the proposal in a draft of a report to be presented to the City Council today show that financing costs would bring the city’s total to just under $241 million. Last week, Mayor Will Sessoms estimated the cost at $195 million but noted that did not include borrowing costs.

At the same time, city officials have suggested boosting the hotel tax by 1 percentage point to help pay for the proposed arena at the Oceanfront, and resort hoteliers voted Monday to support the idea.

A rate increase to 14 percent, from 13 percent, would generate an estimated $2.8 million per year for the project. For a $200 hotel room, a customer would pay $28 in tax, up from $26.

“We think it will be a big boost for Virginia Beach and the region,” said Verne Burlage, president of the Virginia Beach Hotel-Motel Association, which he said voted unanimously to support it.

Supposedly, this will attract the Sacramento Kings, a third-rate basketball team distinguished primarily by the duplicity of its owners.

My two or three regular readers know that I see this as of a sport-fan-induced pipe dream the primary result which will be to deliver truckloads of money to developers. It is notable that, to create their rosy marketing predictions, the marketing consultants have extended their version of the metropolitan area as far as Richmond–90 miles away, about the distance from Manhattan to Trenton.

It takes so little effort with Google to find piles of the smoking ashes of arena pipe dreams in other cities that I’m not going to waste my time.

Instead, I will point out this little fact that seems lost in the shuffle: Several decades ago, two nearby cities smoked the same stuff and built very nice arenas. Major civic events, big-time professional sports, transformative effects, and magical visits from the revenue fairy were predicted. One of them even had a professional basketball team for a few years.

As I write this, both cities are still nice little cities with nice arenas that host concerts and other performances, but neither provides evidence that shoveling money to developers to build sports palaces transforms a relatively small city into anything other than a relatively small city with a mortgage on a sports palace.


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