Former Richmond Coliseum tenant weighs in on reported replacement project

RICHMOND, Va. -- As reports emerge that a replacement plan is in the work for the Richmond Coliseum and would involve Dominion Energy, a former "tenant" of the aging facility is weighing in on the proposal.

Richmond BizSense first reported Tuesday that Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell is leading a group of investors planning the Coliseum rebuild. Dominion would play a major role in the deal and seek naming rights, according to the article that cites sources close to the discussions.

Allan Harvie Jr. helped found the Richmond Renegades, a minor league hockey franchise that called the Coliseum home in the 1990's and early 2000's.

A 2011 study commissioned by the City of Richmond found replacing the Coliseum would come with a price tag exceeding $140 million.

"I think the only way they’ll get it done is through private money or some type of private public partnership with tax cuts or tax incentives," he said.

Harvie said when the Renegades first came to Richmond in 1990's, the area around the Coliseum, including 6th Street Marketplace, was thriving and packed with visitors. He now refers to the area as a "ghost town."

If the deal gets done, Harvie said he hopes it will revitalize the area.

"I think it would be a great place to go, but they would have to do a lot of work around it," Harvie said. "There’s no restaurants. There’s no clubs nearby. It needs a lot more activity out there to attract people to come before and after whatever the event is."

Dominion Energy did not return calls requesting comment.

The city of Richmond owns the Coliseum property, and the Mayor's Office released the following statement regarding the BizSense article:

"The Mayor believes the Coliseum is a public asset that has become a public liability, costing taxpayers $1.6 million a year. We are aware there is interest but have not received any proposals."

BizSense reported that an announcement about the project may be coming in the next few weeks.