Virginia Beach, Va. - There are no pro sports teams willing to relocate to Virginia Beach's planned arena.
But today, city leaders and the arena's builders said the venue can be a success without a team.
Arena developers said they designed a facility to support a professional sports team, either basketball or hockey. So far, no team is interested. But during an update on the progress today, the developers say the arena's other uses, like concerts, will be enough to make it successful.
If the plans pass the scrutiny of the public and city council, the Virginia Beach arena would open in the fall of 2017. It's being financed mostly with private investments from overseas lenders, not tax money. The city will divert some tourism taxes to help with the project, and the city will spend more than $50 million to beef up roads and utilities at the site across from the convention center.
But the bulk of the $200 million needed to build this will come from Chinese lenders, with a catch. About 15 percent of the building materials, like glass and steel for example, must come from China.
"The Chinese lender is one of the largest international lenders will be financing the arena because we are using Chinese content," says Andrea Kilmer from ESG.
That arrangement is unusual, according to the developer's CEO. It means she and her company are taking the biggest risk, not the city. And she said that's an added incentive to do it right.
"Keep in mind, this is my hometown. This is our hometown. We're not here to build a facility that will not work. We will make this facility work," says Kilmer.