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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
The proposed Virginia Beach arena would have a capacity of 18,000 seats. Here are the largest existing indoor sports and entertainment venues in the state.
John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville - 14,593
Hampton Coliseum - 13,800
Norfolk Scope - 13,800
Richmond Coliseum - 13,553
William & Mary Hall, Williamsburg - 11,300
Roanoke Civic Center - 10,600
Patriot Center, Fairfax - 10,000
Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg - 9,847
Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk - 9,520
Robins Center, Richmond - 9,071
University Hall, Charlottesville - 8,457
Vines Center, Lynchburg - 8,085
Stuart C. Siegel Center, Richmond - 7,617
JMU Convocation Center, Harrisonburg - 7,612
Hampton Convocation Center - 7,200
Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall, Norfolk State University- 7,000
Bold denotes Hampton Roads venue
With less than five weeks until the city of Virginia Beach's deadline, arena development executives were "optimistic and confident."
In an email sent exclusively to Inside Business on Feb. 2, United States Management Chief Executive Officer Andrea Kilmer and USM Chief Financial Officer Valerie Wilkinson said they "intend to meet the March 8 deadline" for a loan commitment for the proposed $210 million, 18,000-seat sports and entertainment arena.
The Beach-based developer has received two 60-day extensions from the city, is in talks with a lender and still intends to build the venue on the Oceanfront.
Inside Business: How confident are you, percentage wise, that a deal gets done for a Virginia Beach arena?
Andrea Kilmer and Valerie Wilkinson of United States Management: "We're optimistic and confident that we'll provide the city of Virginia Beach with a loan commitment by the March 8 deadline that meets the terms of the December 2015 agreement, and we look forward to bringing this exciting new venue to Hampton Roads."
IB: How confident are you, percentage wise, that a deal gets done for an arena in Hampton Roads?
USM: "As noted above, we are confident. We are also confident that the arena will be a first-class facility that will become an iconic and popular attraction for our entire region. Further, it will represent the best efforts of three well established local companies - ESG/USM, S.B. Ballard Construction and Clark Nexsen, as well as industry experts AECOM and AEG, our world-class operating partner, who will bring incredible acts, innovation and professionalism to the venue."
IB: Are you still working out deal details with the same domestic lender from January (outside of Virginia that is the lead of a consortium that includes businesses based in the state)? If not, what lender or lenders are you working with now?
USM: "We continue to work with the same lender."
IB: What is left to do to get the deal done?
USM: "We need to provide the loan commitment to the city by the deadline, receive an approval that it meets the terms of the agreement and then close the loan. We have until September to do so, but anticipate it will happen much sooner."
IB: Are you still talking to the NHL and/or the NBA about a possible expansion team? What about the ACC for the men's basketball tournament? Is your deal contingent on getting any pro or college sports commitments?
USM: "Our deal is not contingent on any sports commitments. There is, however, significant interest in the proposed arena on both a regional and national level as it would be a large, new venue ideally placed in neutral territory in an underserved metro area of the mid-Atlantic."
IB: In our current Inside Business poll, 40 percent of our online readers say the arena should be built in Norfolk, and 28 percent say it should be built in Virginia Beach. What's your reaction to that?
USM: "We are grateful for the continued interest and enthusiasm of area residents for the project and look forward to providing quality entertainment and sporting events for the entire region."
IB: If the March 8 deadline passes and the deal is off the table with the city of Virginia Beach, do you plan to go to Norfolk next? Have you spoken with Norfolk officials about putting an arena there? If so, where are the possible locations for it?
USM: "We intend to meet the March 8 deadline."
IB: If not Norfolk, what are other cities in Virginia where you might put the arena?
USM: "See above."
IB: If the arena plans fall through altogether, then what?
USM: "See above."
IB: Would you have until September to close the loan because that is six months after the loan commitment deadline?
USM: "According to the (city's) January resolution, this date will be 'not later than Sept. 7.'"
IB: If you get the loan commitment by March 8, what are the expected dates for breaking ground and the grand opening of the arena?
USM: "We would anticipate site work and ground breaking in late spring with grand opening in early 2019."
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