City looks to move forward with Savannah Arena Project

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Time is money. That’s what District 1 Alderman Van Johnson said when it comes to the arena project and other officials agree.

In fact, there’s a $50 million difference now from when the arena was first proposed.

“The longer we wait, every year we wait, we’re talking about millions of dollars that the price goes up just due to the market,” Johnson said.

Johnson is talking about the new Savannah Arena. A hot topic at Tuesday’s city council work session. It was originally a $90 million project that will now cost $140 million.

“We need to talk about getting this arena out of the ground,” Johnson said. “We have a significant amount of enough money to get started and to move substantially on this project, and so I want to see some movement on the arena.”

Back in November of 2013, voters gave the go-ahead on the SPLOST that would cover up to $120 million of the project.

Last year, consultants studied the economic impact and the cost of the facility.

Even though the money has always been there Johnson said the city has had too many other issues to move forward.

“The city has gone through their shares of trials,” Johnson said. “We have a new city manager; we’ve had some turnover in staff. I understand that, but I think we’re to the point where people are tired, people want to see this happen.”

People like District 8 County Commissioner Chester Ellis. At the beginning of this year he pushed for the progress of the new arena.

And he did even more so in an interview from last month just before the Savannah Forward meetings kicked off for city officials to get feedback from the community.

“Start the work on the arena,” Ellis said. “The voters have voted for that. The monies have been comin in, and so I’m hoping that they will go ahead and get that in place.”

City officials said they are ready to give the go-ahead on the project and could see a design by this time next year.

“It’s time for us to make this happen and I want to see it in my lifetime as well,” Johnson said.

Consultants said it could take up to three years until they could host a concert in the new venue and that’s from the date council approves the arena plan.

Now, the arena would be in the Canal District, which was another hot topic at the council work session.

Developers would like the 55 acres of land to mirror our other parks, like Daffin and Forsyth.

Development would be separated into three phases, which is a 10 to 15 year vision with the first phase costing $41.5 million.

This is a project the city just can’t fund at the moment, but they do want input from the public.

Those meetings are expected to happen within the next couple of weeks.

For more information on the projects, click here.

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