West Savannah weighing in on arena talks - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

West Savannah weighing in on arena talks

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

In addition to learning more from consultants about a proposed new arena, Savannah City Council also learned that more than the $140 million set aside may be needed to do everything they want to do.

That led to a discussion following the presentation where Mayor Eddie DeLoach began questioning if the proposed site of the new arena in West Savannah, is really the best place.

"We need the whole outfit fixed up before anybody tries to move in or take over. We need the canal fixed, we need a lot of things fixed up over here,” said Paul Roberson, West Savannah resident.

Roberson lives just down the street from the proposed site of the new arena, and sees what kind of economic benefit it could bring. But he adds there are two sides of the coin.

"It could happen, and again, it could not happen. You know, they say a lot of things but I never see nothing go on around here,” said Roberson.

Council discussed the need to improve the area around the arena during Thursday's workshop, adding those improvements carry an unclear price tag. The budgeting concerns had Mayor DeLoach suggesting the arena be built where the current arena sits.

"I just put my idea out there so we could at least talk about keeping the budget within the budget. That's all I want to do,” Mayor DeLoach said.

"It's just sad to me that they would think about moving it someplace else, other than where it was supposed to be,” said West Savannah Community Organization President Ronald Williams.

Williams says a lot of folks are counting on something being done to improve the quality of life on the west side, even if that means improving the area around the proposed site first.

"If they do decide to move it where Johnny Mercer is now, then I'm just hoping they will continue with the rest of the plans that they have for us and the west side of Savannah,” said Williams.

"If it needs to be right there, then hey, I'm good. I don't have a problem, I'm game. I want everybody to be satisfied. But I know the taxpayers don't want to be paying twenty years down the road to cover the cost of 50-million dollars where we're over our budget. That's just nuts,” said Mayor DeLoach.

The budget for the new arena project was set at $140 million, using SPLOST funding to cover the cost.

The mayor is concerned costs associated with the recommended demolition of the current arena could take the price tag to more than $200 million.

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