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Richmond City Council May Put Coliseum Deal To Voters

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, Richmond City Council is expected to give expedited consideration to a resolution that would put the $1.5 billion coliseum redevelopment deal before voters.

Council members Reva Trammell and Kim Gray filed the resolution on Monday. The referendum would ask residents to give an up or down vote on building a new coliseum using tax revenue. It’s an advisory referendum, meaning City Council would still have the final say on whether to approve the deal.

Gray said she sees the referendum as part of doing due diligence in vetting the deal.

“We need to have our ducks in a row in reviewing this whole proposal and utilizing every resource we have to make sure we are making the best decision for the people,” Gray said. 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has touted the plan to redevelop the coliseum and large parts of Downtown as a potential driver of new tax revenue. In addition to a new coliseum, the project includes about $900 million in private investment to create new downtown office space, apartment buildings and a hotel. That investment would come from the developer NH District Corp. headed by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell.

For their part, the city would take out a $350 million bond to build a new arena. It would be paid by any new tax revenue generated in the Downtown.

Richmond City Council already voted earlier this year to set up a Navy Hill Development Commission to analyze the project and report its findings.

Asked about a potential voter referendum, Mayor Stoney said on Monday that the council should do its job.

“[City Council] set up a process to create a commission to review this over the next 90 days, I think that’s the commitment they should keep,” Stoney said.

The advisory referendum before City Council is separate from a similar referendum being pushed by Richmond lawyer Paul Goldman. That referendum gained roughly 15,000 signatures but has yet to be certified.


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