Hey, want a new Coliseum?

Back in September the City’s Coliseum study group tossed out a couple of recommendations to upgrade Richmond’s largest (and aging) venue. While, theoretically, one option was to renovate the existing Coliseum, it now looks like that has been tabled in favor of a shiny new arena (that, one could say, looks like it belongs in Dubai).

Back in September the City’s Coliseum study group tossed out a couple of recommendations to upgrade Richmond’s largest (and aging) venue. While, theoretically, one option was to renovate the existing Coliseum, it now looks like that has been tabled in favor of a shiny new arena (that, one could say, looks like it belongs in Dubai).

The price tag: $147 million. The group also suggested that the arena be nestled between 8th, 10th, Marshall, and Leigh — basically right next to the existing Coliseum.

However, before you get stoked and start planning a party with your closest 15,000 friends (this from the RTD):

… the consultant said financing the project will not be feasible until economic conditions improve for Richmond and the surrounding counties that would have to be part of the project for it to succeed.

Here’s the actual report, available in three largish PDF’s:

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Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Scott Burger on said:

    I am not totally against a new facility, but I hope ‘City leadership’ does not plan to use taxpayer money for this. None of the previous downtown projects have brought any return on their public investment going back to Sixth Street Marketplace (construction and demolition) but including the “Greater” Richmond Convention Center, Broad Street CDA, and Center Stage. Even the Hippodrone renovation is using $200,000 in city funds and its unclear if that will ever come back to taxpayers.

    Citizens are still waiting for the meals tax increase to be rescinded, as Center Stage backers told citizens would happen as soon as Center Stage was completely built. Citizens would also like to see Center Stage finances, still not completely open despite the millions and millions in public money involved.

    We need public funding to go to projects that DIRECTLY serve citizens, not more corporate welfare projects. I would rather see a new jail, high speed rail and fully renovated schools for Richmond.

  2. Scott and I have a longtime disagreement on this sort of thing. Investing in a new coliseum would bring immediate benefits to the city, provide jobs, build infrastructure and attract more people back into the city. Should it be done now, do we have the money, how do we finance it?, those are all good questions, but the current Coliseum is an embarrassment and the city loses tax money and entertainment options everyday. Soon we will lose the CAA tourney if nothing is done. Major concerts already detour around Richmond to Charlottesville and Hampton Roads.

    Worst case scenario? Tax breaks from Henrico or Chesterfield draw investors to build a 1st class arena to some megadevelopment 20 miles from town and Richmond permanently loses another of its core facilities.

  3. Jakobatsy the Polish Pilferer on said:

    I for one would love to see the old one demolished and a new park created. But I always want that. Additionally, I think Altria should pay for it out of Altruism…since we have to be constantly reminded in that part of town that we’re the city that cigarettes built.

    The money we save can be used to build the 14th street and UGO-NAUGHT bridges anew without making them look like ugly concrete overpasses. We need more good architecture in this town.

    The design of this thing they’d like to replace the Collostrum looks like one of those-there WeeGee board pointers or me-lady’s birth control holder….but I digress….do you concur?

    Sa wheat!

  4. Scott Burger on said:

    We keep hearing these hollow promises that never pan out. We have seen over a billion dollars invested in downtown infrastructure in the last twenty years with very little to show for it. There’s has never been the return on invest for these corporate welfare schemes.

    Go ahead, Paul, let’s see the full history of the Broad Street CDA. Account for the Convention Center, which demolished whole parts of Jackson Ward. Where are the answers to my Center Stage questions?

    What is worst is that these projects distract needed public money and attention from more worthwhile priorities like renovating our neighborhood public school buildings, some of the oldest in the country. Citizens ask for improvements to our neighborhood infrastructure and we are told that there is no budget for them. And then you wonder why working families leave the City for the suburbs?

    If we were seeing a proposal for a new stadium, built with PRIVATE money, that included green building, mass transit, and energy conservation measures, that looked economically sustainable, I would say go for it, but this is not that proposal. Its the same ol’ Richmond Renaissance dumb construction ploy that has been a plague for Richmond taxpayers.

    As for your worst case scenario, we heard these scare tactics from the stupid Braves already and now they are losing money in an overpriced new stadium in Georgia. GO SQUIRRELS!

  5. Joel Katz on said:

    Read the report and I think you will see many assumptions about attendance and “build it and they will come” pronouncements.

    The only way to judge the financial projections in the report is to look at the current Coliseum’s attendance and financial records. As these are unavailable, how do we measure the reliability of the numbers?

    Did the 6th Street Marketplace, Broad St CDA, Convention Center, Centerstage (I hate that title) come close to the many consultants’ financial projections?

    How about Richmond use its limited public resources to fix the schools, educate the disabled kids denied services, and the other core needs of this poorer-than-average community? If the corporate community wants a new facility, let them float the bonds. If SMG, the current no-bid operator, of many facilities ponies up some real cash, good for them. Over the last 20 years, SMG has received huge City subsidises. Time to give something back?

  6. The only way this makes sense is if a private company builds it AND runs it. Using city resident tax dollars for private industry has burned richmond too many times, Scott is right. I left the city because the tax burden is too high on the city residents. Soon the taxes in the city will be even worse, to pay for a coliseum, a baseball stadium, who knows what all else. There’s gotta be a better way.

  7. I agree to an extent. The city can’t and shouldn’t pay for this on its own. This needs to beat a regional effort. Everyone benefits and everyone should pay. Greater richmond needs to act mike’s a larger community that it is.

  8. To answer the original question…yes.

  9. likes not “mike’s”. Darn smart phone!

  10. Please I have the solution…..Just look at the web site…..they do this in Phoenix….but yet our leaders in Richmond have never given me a phone call to even tell me I am nuts.

  11. Everyone in this town (and surrounding) gripes about downtown…so what the hell do you want everyone to do?

    The Convention Center is great, but there are not enough hotel rooms, restaurants, night life to support a large convention to make it a great use of the space and desirable town. So what do you want first…the draw for when people are already here OR the draw to get people here. It’s a no win….

    We all know things don’t normally come together at the same time. Broad Street is AMAZING compared to how it looked when I got to town in 2005. But in 5 years there is a new Subway, Center Stage, smattering of restaurants and abandonded buildings yet to be developed…it is better but it can’t all happen at once.

    Centerstage looks great! It has enahnced all of Grace Street and we can only hope Grace gets developed as well. The meals tax will never be revoked…I work in a restaurant and could only hope…it will never happen so let’s move onto the next topic.

  12. Scott Burger on said:

    Regardless of the meals tax increase, we still do not even have an idea of how much Center Stage is costing City taxpayers. City Council passed a special deal to make Center Stage’s finances secret.

    Look at the Convention Center, why was it built so unsustainably large? If you look at the market for conventions, there was no way Richmond could compete. We are still subsidizing it a ridiculous amount- maybe as much as a million dollars a month.

    Most Richmond citizens don’t live downtown, and I would not be surprised if most City of Richmond citizens don’t even work downtown. So why should we be forced to subsidize these ‘tinker toy’ projects, as one Richmond rapper put it, for a very small tourist trade?

    What Richmond citizens do need is renovated neighborhood school buildings that can compare favorably with ones in the counties. Are there other problems with Richmond public schools? Of course. Talk to Carol Wolf and I will overwhelmingly agree. However, this is about capital spending projects. Imagine what a difference for our neighborhoods, schools, and students it would make if instead of spending a million dollars a month on the ‘downtown ego palaces’ (as local Christopher Maxwell calls them), the City instead spent a million dollars on a different school renovation each month.

    Still don’t care about schools? How about parks then? I hear the Xterra race needs a lousy 25 grand to stay in Richmond. What could local parks and rec/sports enthusiasts do with a million dollars a month?

    Or how about just neighborhood streets and sidewalks? How much cleaner and well maintained will they be if they had just a small part of the funding that downtown has WASTED already?
    If our schools, parks, and streets were in better shape, how many more citizens would the CIty attract and more importantly, keep?

    Until City taxpayers do more to demand accountability, we will continue to be shafted like this. The local corporate leadership does not care about the citizens. They have already proven this.
    As citizens, we need to demand that our City government listen to us – not the counties, not VCU, not Trani, not Richmond Renaissance/Venture Richmond/Future of Richmond, or whatever the corporate welfare groups are being called these days-

    Our City government needs to listen to the citizens who actually live here.

  13. Joel Katz on said:

    Run for City Council Scott. We need intelligence there more than ever. Or move out to my neighborhood where I have 2 O’Bannons and a Cantor who cannot deal with reality!

  14. anonymous on said:

    Correction: Hippodrone has received $600,000 from City so far, not $200,000.


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