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Plans for new LSU entertainment and sports arena moving forward

1 month 2 weeks 1 day ago Monday, February 26 2024 Feb 26, 2024 February 26, 2024 6:11 PM February 26, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey have something in common—they both want a venue that can properly host sports and entertainment in Baton Rouge.

The women agree with Metro Council members that the River Center can't be that venue.

"It needs a lot of tender loving care to bring it to what it needs to be, but even with a significant amount of investment, the River Centerin terms of capacitywouldn't get Baton Rouge to the level to host some of these larger scale events," Metro councilman Rowdy Gaudet said.

According to LSU, neither can the PMAC, which is why TAF is going ahead with plans to build an entirely new, best-in-class arena for sports and entertainment.

In order for that to happen, developers have to be assured that they won't be competing with the River Center to book acts, so TAF has asked the Metro Council to enter into an agreement that would restrict the kind of events held there, including any concerts or shows that exceed 3,500 attendees.

According to the River Center, on average they have 10-12 events a year that meet that. Some of those are Zydeco hockey games, which will be allowed to stay at the current arena since sports events have a cap of 8,500.

Several members of the Metro Council, including Carolyn Coleman, whose district includes downtown, are on board with the proposal. She did not return a request for comment Monday.

"I would say the gain is the fact that we are going to have a new asset located on LSU's campus that can bring large scale entertainment to large scale venues that Baton Rouge really and truly should be hosting," Gaudet said.

The mayor called it "an opportunity...to bring a significant parishwide benefit" in a statement sent to WBRZ.

It's much too early to determine a project costbut according to the Metro Council's draft ordinanceit will be structured as a public-private partnership, estimated to exceed $300 million. TAF will be on the hook for coming up with the money.

Part of the proposal includes turning the River Center into a hub for conventions and potentially add a hotel to accommodate attendees.

The item will be open to public comment at a Metro Council meeting March 13.

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