Savannah city officials discuss new arena proposal

Savannah City officials discuss new arena proposal

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Late last summer, Savannah City Council commissioned Barrett Sports Group to do a study on the proposed site in west Savannah, and all that the project would entail.

This week, the completed 400-page report is in council's hands, and during Thursday morning's work session, they got to hear more about it.

As soon as all the maps and figures and schematics were presented by Barrett, council got to talking. And a few of our elected officials quickly realized they are not on the same page.

That's mainly when it comes to the projected cost of the proposed new arena. Because for the arena alone, Barrett estimates a $140 million price tag. But that doesn't include the neighboring old water works building, with a renovation price tag of more than $8 million, and creating nearly 3,000 parking spaces for around $5.5 million.

As the price tag got bigger, Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach started to wonder where that money was going to come from.

"I think the program he developed, that was put out was great. What concerned me was the overall cost on everything that we are talking about. We are up over $200 million now, and we've got, what, 140 coming in, maybe 150? Where is the other 50 million coming from? That is all my concern," said Mayor DeLoach.

"I respect the mayor's assessment of it, but I have been at this a little longer than him. And the reality is that, you know, we are not going to go bankrupt with this. We buy the stuff we want, we pay for the things we want. We have excellent bonding. We are talking about $80 million for police things. I mean, the fact is if we really want to do this, we could find the money to do it," said Alderman Van Johnson, Dist. 1.

Even though there was some disagreement on the location, everyone seemed impressed by Barrett's design and presentation.  So now it's a question of what council members will decide they want to do moving forward with what information they've been given.

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