Jul 26, 2021 - Politics

Mayor pushes for new arena in $450 million infrastructure package

Mayor Michael Hancock stands at a podium

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks to the media in January. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is resuming his push for a "state-of-the-art" arena on the National Western Center campus.

Why it matters: Development plans that included the arena were put on hold during the pandemic, following a nosedive in Denver's lodger's tax, which was intended to pay for part of the project.

  • The goal is to bring new life to the rundown Western Center complex and turn the campus into a year-round destination for Denverites and tourists alike.

Driving the news: The arena is now the crown jewel in a $450 million infrastructure bond package Hancock proposed in his annual State of the City address this morning.

  • The mayor is gathering political support to put the package on the November ballot for voter approval.

In his pitch for the arena, Hancock said "the new events it will attract will create year-round jobs and provide funding for community programs and projects important to the well-being of the surrounding neighborhoods."

  • Hancock's spokesperson Mike Strott told Axios the mayor's vision also includes resuming remodeling plans to convert a 111-year-old former arena on the National Western Center campus into a public market.

Details: The bond package — which will go before City Council for approval in the coming weeks — is estimated to create at least 7,500 jobs and $1 billion in economic benefits. And "that’s just for the construction," Hancock said.

  • Strott said the majority of the jobs and economic benefits will stem from the National Western Center project.

State of play: City officials are still working on narrowing the list of projects that would fit into the package, which is $50 million more than initially proposed.

  • A special committee was formed to whittle down a list of nearly 150 projects based on a criteria including equity, economic impact and safety.

What to watch: If approved, the 10,000-seat arena could be used for events including sports games and concerts, Strott told Axios.

  • It would likely replace the Denver Coliseum, 9News reports.

Yes, but: Several council members have voiced opposition to including arena construction in the bond package because it eats up most of the budget, the Denver Gazette reports.

  • Strott told Axios construction of the arena and public market would cost an estimated $190 million — 42% of the package.

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