Update on Richmond Coliseum's future

By Ben Garbarek  - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - City leaders have been trying to figure out what to do with the Richmond Coliseum. A new study released Thursday morning recommends building a new arena downtown and eventually tearing down the Coliseum.

The study says promoters often skip Richmond and hold events in smaller cities Charlottesville with better facilities. City leaders hope a new arena will make Richmond more competitive.

The city parking lot off 8th and Clay could soon be the home of a new $147 million arena. That's if city leaders follow the recommendations of a new study released today. The Coliseum was built in 1971.

"(The Coliseum's) not big enough for concerts," said Richmond City Council President Kathy Graziano. "It's not in very good shape so we need to seriously look at what we're going to do to solve this problem."

The new arena would hold about 15,000 people. That's about 2000 more than the Coliseum. Some people like Jessica Lynn say Richmond could use something bigger and better.

"Every city usually has a decent Coliseum that attracts a lot of big events," she said. "We're kind of lacking that right now."

Phillip Brandon agrees. He says a new arena could convince promoters to stop passing through Richmond en route to other cities.

"We'll attract more shows and more events," he said. "People from other states, other cities would commute here to see entertainment."

Some minor league hockey and basketball leagues have shown interest in coming to Richmond if a new arena is built. Mayor Dwight Jones admits $147 million is a lot of money, but he says upgrading the Coliseum is a necessity.

"It's outlived its usefulness," Jones said.  "If we're going to move forward, we're going to have to bite the bullet."

You don't have to say your goodbyes to the Coliseum just yet. The city doesn't have the money to pay for the project and likely won't until the economy improves. City leaders say they simply want a plan they can put in place when more funding is available.

So far there are no plans for what do with the Coliseum property if it was demolished.

To see the full results of the study click here.

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