Virginia Beach arena deal on brink of completion

An artist's rendering of the proposed sports and entertainment arena in Virginia Beach. (Photo Courtesy City of Virginia Beach.)
An artist’s rendering of the proposed sports and entertainment arena in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of city of Virginia Beach)

After nearly two years of talks, Virginia Beach is on the brink of signing a deal to build a $210 million arena at the Oceanfront. Officials hope the 18,000-seat stadium will host marquee concerts and eventually draw a pro sports team to town.

The City Council met Tuesday in a closed session to discuss the arena. Vice Mayor Louis Jones said Wednesday officials left that meeting “close” to a deal, and that city staff members are following up with developers of the project ahead of a special meeting scheduled for Monday.

“Assuming they resolve the two to three issues we had, it will probably be a deal,” he said.

Jones would not say if one of those issues was related to parking concerns raised by residents, which has been an item of controversy. When built, the arena will share parking with the city’s Convention Center on 19th Street.

Jones also declined to comment further or give a timetable, citing the ongoing talks.

Under previously agreed terms, United States Management LLC, the development team that will build the arena with help from Chinese banks, will pay to construct and operate the arena. The city will provide land for the project and spend an additional $78 million on infrastructure improvements, including parking.

Multiple councilmembers said Wednesday that talks were almost concluded.

“They are literally negotiating as we speak,” Councilman Jim Wood said.

Joel Rubin, a spokesman for United States Management, described the terms that have not been agreed upon yet as minor and said “hopefully everything will be resolved by Monday.”

Wood said he expects the City Council to pass a resolution “pretty quickly” after that. The resolution would essentially amount to an agreement in principal with developers over terms of the deal.

When asked about a timeline for construction and property transfer, Wood said a detailed one for the entire project would likely be released next week “if everything works out.”

He said “everything is fluid right now” and that even after an agreement is made there will be more steps, including public hearings, before the arena can be built.

“This just gets us to a point where everyone agrees on the basic details,” Wood said. “After that is when people will notice things start to happen.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that representatives from the company were in the closed meeting with the City Council. They were not.

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