VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - For the first time, the public weighed in on a proposed 18,000 seat arena that would bring an NBA team to Virginia Beach.
A committee, created by the city council to inform citizens, held a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
Hundreds of people from across Hampton Roads came to hear the presentation.
Residents saw the arena's location, next to the convention center between Birdneck Road and the Interstate.
Attendees also viewed possible light rail routes to the Oceanfront.
But most importantly, citizens got to speak their minds. Each table had a moderator, who was a member of the citizens' committee.
Citizens' concerns included parking, financing and the magnitude of the project.
Each table discussed two questions, as prompted by city officials.
The first question was worded, as follows: "What intrigues you about the idea of having a sports and entertainment venue in Virginia Beach?"
"The thing that intrigues me is the city is finally taking the next step in the growth of the city," said one citizen to his table. "We're no longer going to be a farming, rural, suburban type city. We're actually going to be a real city and a leader in the Hampton Roads area."
The second question was worded as follows: "What concerns do you have about the arena project?"
"We are going to have to pay the taxes to pay for it," said one woman, during the table discussions. "I'm not willing to do that. For one, I don't watch basketball. I know a lot of people that don't watch basketball. This arena is too big for us."
The moderators did not encourage or discourage any of the comments. Instead they wrote them down, to bring them back to city council.
The citizens committee is made up of several dozen business and civic leaders, who will not take an official stance on the arena issue.
Their job is to inform the public and bring feedback to city council, who says the team has to commit by January, otherwise it will be difficult to convince the delegation for state funding. Without $!50 million from the state, the city says the deal is dead.
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