Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mayor Jones Responds to Coliseum Study Interim Report

City officials, along with county and corporate partners, today received an update from the consulting team that was retained by the Coliseum Study Group to evaluate the long-term options associated with the Coliseum and the Greater Richmond area. Barrett Sports Group, LLC and Populous Architects, P.C. provided the update to the Coliseum Study Group, which consists of a group of private corporations and public sector entities.

"The market research thus far supports what we know about Richmond being an optimal location," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "Richmond is a sizable market with limited entertainment options. What we have to do now is get the right facility in the city to put us in a position to capture the events that will expand our tourism footprint where sports and entertainment are concerned."

A total of seven potential arena sites in the city of Richmond were reviewed in Phase 1 of the study. The consulting team has narrowed the options down to four locations for the group's consideration. The recommended sites include the existing Coliseum, the Public Safety Building and adjacent parking lots, the Diamond and the ABC warehouse site.

Today's report is preliminary and no conclusions have been drawn at this stage. The next phase of the study will explore economic and financial feasibility considerations in more detail, and will also assess the potential of a new or renovated facility to catalyze new development and neighborhood revitalization. There will be a public input process to evaluate recommendations.

"Tourism, sports and entertainment can help stimulate our city's economy; providing jobs and employment growth, an expanded tax base and other direct benefits to local residents," continued Mayor Jones. "We want a facility that accommodates what this market can support and what this market deserves. Dollars are leaving this area and going to other places because of the limitations of the existing facility and we are going to turn that around."

The consulting team retained by the Coliseum Study Group consists of Barrett Sports Group, LLC, Populous Architects, P.C. and Weston Sports & Entertainment. A final report is expected by mid-November.

Click here for the interim status report.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mayor Jones Statement Regarding Port of Richmond

The Port of Richmond is owned by the City and managed by the Port of Richmond Commission. A special session of City Council is scheduled today to discuss issues related to the lease of the Port. Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement on the matter:

“Events in the last two years have resulted in questions concerning the Port’s long-term economic benefit to the City. These events include 1) worldwide economic downturn, 2) loss of the weekly trans-Atlantic shipments, 3) loss of the long-time Port operator, and 4) declining working capital for investments in infrastructure maintenance.

“The financial condition of the Port has deteriorated to such a point that it is not generating sufficient revenue to pay its expenses. In June 2010, the City Council appropriated $1 million in general funds to the Port to cover its operating expenses and authorized another $500,000 of in-kind or cash equivalents to address the immediate infrastructure maintenance needs. While this action was necessary at that time, it is not in the best interest of the city to have an asset that is designed to be self-sustaining to consume general fund resources over the long term.

“In a June 15, 2010 letter, the Administration expressed that ‘the Commission needs to report regularly to City Council and the Administration on its business operations and future outlook. Additionally, the Port must present an in-depth business outline that details the plan for returning the Port to a viable operational status.’ A subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Port Commission Chairman and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer reaffirmed these requirements.

“In July, the Administration provided the Port with almost one quarter of the $1 million general fund appropriation. This initial draw down of the appropriation has allowed the Port to pay all known obligations that have been reported to city. However, the Port is at a point where an additional draw down may be required in order to pay for obligations that have occurred during the month of August and beyond.

“While the Administration and City Council have made substantial efforts to enable the Port’s success during this difficult transitional period, at this point the Port has provided limited information concerning its business outline. This condition of the MOU between the Port and the Administration is the key condition of the provision of funds. Moreover, without a comprehensive business development and marketing plan, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Port and the city to evaluate the multiple options concerning future Port operations that are currently being discussed.

“Today, the Administration, City Council, and the Port will discuss one key option that is before the Port and analyze how that option aligns with the Port’s business outline. It is our hope that City Council, who has the authority over Port decisions, will soon be in a position to determine the best operating structure for the Port of Richmond.”

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City of Richmond Announces Two-Year Extension with CAA

~CAA Men's Basketball Championship to remain at Richmond Coliseum through 2014~

The city of Richmond and the Colonial Athletic Association announced today a two-year extension of their agreement to conduct the CAA Men's Basketball Championship at the Richmond Coliseum through 2014.

"We are pleased that the CAA has agreed to extend our relationship at this time," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This is a longstanding and very important partnership for the city of Richmond as well as the Richmond region and we are working to ensure that we will continue to have a relationship well into the future."

Last year, Mayor Jones set in motion a plan to address both short and long-term issues related to improving the Coliseum. Investments have been made to improve the current facility for the short-term, and for the long-term, community partners and business leaders are involved in a review to determine the best future approach for the Coliseum structure.

“Richmond has served as the host of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship since 1990 and our current contract covers the 2011 and 2012 tournaments,” CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said. “The City of Richmond is in the process of studying the long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum and, in the spirit of partnership that we have developed with the City of the past 21 years, signing this extension provides both sides with time to chart a course for the future. We are also satisfied with the City’s commitment to enhance some of the amenities in and around the Coliseum during the on-going decision-making process.”

An economic impact study conducted during last year's tournament determined that the combined economic impact and economic significance of the conference on the Richmond Region is $5.8 million during the four days of the event. The long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum is under review with corporate partners including Dominion Resources, Genworth Financial, MeadWestvaco and Altria.

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