Richmond could see new hockey team, arena

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Professional hockey could be coming back to Richmond. The city is a finalist for a new minor league team.

The Coliseum is more than forty years old. The city unveiled its plans for a new arena nearly a year ago. Some say a new hockey team could make the case for a new Coliseum.

Richmond is no stranger to hockey. The Renegades were the last team to play in the Coliseum. That team folded back in 2009. Richmond is one of eight cities vying for a spot in the new Northern Professional Hockey League.

Councilman Marty Jewell hopes a new team could breathe new life into the aging Richmond Coliseum.

"We're looking at what to do with a new city ballpark and perhaps even a Coliseum," Jewell said. "Sports tourism is a big deal and we ought to go for it with all the gusto we got."

Now the debate is whether to renovate the existing Coliseum or build a new arena. Problem is, the proposed new arena would cost $147 million - money the city doesn't have to spare.

City Council President Kathy Graziano says there has to be a market for a new arena. She says another tenant like a minor league hockey could help make that case.

"It certainly doesn't hurt," Graziano said. "It certainly doesn't hurt if we have that tenant and perhaps if we could get some major events booked over the next five or six years then those would all add to the need for a Coliseum."

The city's plans would put the new arena on a parking lot next to the John Marshall Courthouse. But Graziano says this all comes down to the almighty dollar.

"Do we want to build a Coliseum on our own?" she asked. "Do we want it to be a regional Coliseum? Do we want to have a Coliseum in this region at all? Those are decisions that have not really yet been flushed out."

It's not just the Coliseum city leaders are looking to upgrade. The city is still trying to figure out what to do with the Diamond and City Stadium.

The city unveiled its plans for a new arena last year saying it wanted to have a plan in place for when the economy improves and might have the money available to build it.

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