Virginia Beach City Council votes 8-2 giving go-ahead to Sports Center project

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Resort City's next big project has the green light to move forward.

With an 8-2 vote on Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council gave City Manager Dave Hansen approval to execute an agreement with MEB General Contractors to design and build a Sports Center across 19th Street from the Convention Center. It came after a unanimous vote to move $3.5 million in CIP dollars from the Dome Site to Central Beach and Convention Districts Parking.

Virginia Beach Sports Center rendering

Between the structure and parking, the project is expected to cost around $68 million total.

"This could be very transformative for our tourism," said Councilman John Uhrin, who represents the Beach area and was one of the eight 'yes' votes. "This could also be for our local folks here in terms of creating additional opportunities for recreation."

John Moss and Jessica Abbott were the two 'no' votes, with Moss raising concerns about how the project could impact the city's line of credit and the other important efforts it could take away from.

"We have a lot of people still exposed to flooding risk and we're being told...if we did what we want to do, it would be injurious to the city's credit rating," he said.

Several speakers also gave their thoughts at the meeting.

Diana Burke, Executive Director for the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, led a large group who voiced their support, telling News 3 that bringing in athletes from up and down the East Coast will be big for Beach-area businesses.

"(There could be) 62 tournaments by November of 2020," she said. "We've heard there could be as many as 100,000 additional heads in beds after a couple years of having this facility open."

She says the effects would be felt throughout the city benefiting everyone.

Others in the audience voiced their concerns that the project was moving too fast and asked the council to hold off and give more thought to the safety of people who would frequent the Sports Center.

Construction is expected to start in August with the project wrapping up in November 2020.