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If you build it, will they come? River Center trying to court Pelicans, hockey with $2M renovations

1 year 8 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, October 27 2022 Oct 27, 2022 October 27, 2022 10:36 PM October 27, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Wednesday night, the Metro Council ended up approving over $2 million to renovate the Raising Cane's River Center with the goal of getting more people downtown and spending money.

Things that will be improved include a new scoreboard for over $400,000, a Terracover to go over the ice for just under $200,000 and a basketball court for $150,000. 

Aaron Moak gave the idea some pushback during the meeting, saying he was hoping for more significant changes to the River Center and asked if it was worth saving that money for later. 

"Would it behoove us to put this $2.3 million in right now, or save this $2.3 million and find out what we have with the overall plan with the River Center completely?" Moak said. 

Whitney Hoffman Sayal, the Executive Director of the Downtown Development District, says downtown Baton Rouge is full of potential. 

"If we can get more people downtown, the better it would obviously be for our businesses," Hoffman Sayal said. 

Hoffman Sayal says sports is a great way to do that.

From 1996 to 2003, the River Center played host to the Baton Rouge Kingfish. Now, there are three exhibition games on the schedule — two in December and one in January. 

There are talks of possibly getting the G-league team affiliated with the New Orleans Pelicans to call Baton Rouge home. 

Quentin Ransom lives in Baton Rouge and says he would love to attend a basketball game in the River Center. 

"A lot of us can't make it to an NBA game, so it would be nice to have tickets that are affordable. You can bring your family to and get that same feel," Ransom said. 

Hoffman Sayal says Ransom likely isn't alone. She says more sports in the capital city would mean more people coming downtown and spending money. 

"Everybody in this area really likes sports, and so to make the River Center more accommodating for sports is really going to attract people and get them downtown," Hoffman Sayal said. 

WBRZ reached out to the Pelicans spokesman about if there are talks about a G League team coming to Baton Rouge, but we have yet to hear back.

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