Denver makes play for new arena

Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration has outlined plans to develop a new arena for Denver as the headline item of a $450m (£324.5m/€381.6m) General Obligation (GO) bond package targeted at infrastructure projects.

The proposed GO bond package includes more than 80 distinct projects in all areas of Denver with a focus on equity and economic opportunity. Expected to have a seating capacity of around 10,000, the new “state-of-the-art arena” is being planned for the National Western Center site and is set to receive the largest share of the spending proposal, $160m.

Hancock said: “Infrastructure is multi-generational. It creates the structures and facilities that in turn create jobs and enable prosperity. To sustain our recovery, our economy must work for everyone, and these proposed infrastructure investments will drive that value forward.”

More than 6,000 residents weighed in with their priorities for investment for the 2021 RISE Denver GO Bond through the city’s engagement process. The ordinances are scheduled to be considered at Council’s next Finance and Governance Committee meeting on August 3. If advanced, they will then move to Mayor Council on August 10, with the first possible opportunity for a first reading at the full City Council on August 16.

If approved by City Council, the bond package will be referred for inclusion on the November 2021 ballot. If approved by voters, the bonds will be issued over time beginning in spring 2022.

Hancock’s spokesman, Mike Strott, told the Denver Post that the city had originally hoped to carry out the arena project as a “public-private partnership,” but will now seek the backing of voters to get it done. “The pandemic happened, so we kind of had to change tack a little bit,” Strott said.

A new 10,000-seat arena was part of a development masterplan that was approved for the National Western Center in 2015, but ultimately failed to secure funding. The new arena is intended to take over from the Denver Coliseum, which opened in 1951.

“The arena will really be the economic driver behind all of the entire National Western Center campus,” Jenna Espinoza-Garcia, with the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, told CBS Denver.

“We need this midsize arena both to compete on a national scale, but also it will locally provide thousands of jobs both short and long-term opportunities.”

Image: Visit Denver