BY THOMAS BARTOLOMEO
OCEANFRONT — A sizable number of Virginia Beach citizens are pushing back on $200 million of private investment and development in the Oceanfront Arena proposal. Objections represent a form of shortsightedness that has plagued Virginia Beach for decades.
Developer United States Management wants to construct an 18,000 seat privately owned and operated arena adjacent to the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Contingent on the construction of the arena is $76 million for infrastructure improvement from the city.
This $76 million will be pulled directly from the Tourism Investment Program Fund, designed to facilitate projects such as this. The cost to the city will contribute to infrastructure improvements at the I-264 Birdneck interchange and 19th Street, which are badly needed regardless of any further development of the area.
Nearly every local election centers on economic growth. Unfortunately, opposition to major private projects in Virginia Beach is all too common.
An Armada Hoffler proposal to construct a new residential-retail mixed use in Town Center is being met with resistance due to parking concerns. These parking concerns exist despite the ample free parking in city-owned garages.
These projects will create numerous jobs and tax revenue for the city. If these were city financed projects, objections would certainly be reasonable. These are privately owned, operated, and financed projects that will enhance the live of the people of Virginia Beach.
The arena project represents a major step forward for Virginia Beach. Major concerts, sporting events, and other forms of entertainment that have passed over Virginia Beach due to lack of an adequate venue will schedule dates in this arena.
No longer will Virginia Beach residents have to travel to Richmond, Raleigh, or Washington D.C to see major touring acts. They, along with their money, will stay home in Virginia Beach.
Bartolomeo, a Beach native, graduated from the College of William and Mary. He lives and works in the Beach.