Virginia Beach Arena – PR Case Study

es Virginia, by the fall of 2017 there could well be a 16,000-seat arena, largest in the state, hosting major recording artists, sports tournaments, ice shows and other events that have traditionally bypassed Hampton Roads. It would be located in what is now the parking lot of the Virginia Beach Convention Center near the Oceanfront, and it would be one of the first arenas in the nation to be privately owned.

That’s one reason Beach City Council liked the plan. In fact, council members liked it so much that on December 9 they voted 10-0 to approve a term sheet with the ESG Companies to give the local developer the land, $52 million in infrastructure improvements around the site and a portion of existing tax revenues. The arena will generate other tax revenues, create business for hotels and restaurants and promote entertainment development in the vicinity of the project.

RCG’s job was originally to work with the news media, but because of our strong presence at the Beach and multiple skills, we took on much more. We have worked with city communications staff on town hall meetings, provided information to council members, written press releases as well as web and social media copy, furnished political strategy and produced videos. One video chronicles a late-October trip made by city officials and the development team to Lincoln, Nebraska to view that community’s year old and highly successful Pinnacle Bank Arena. ESG hopes Pinnacle Bank will be a prototype for the one it would build in Virginia Beach.

The Lincoln video, all or part of which was shown at key meetings, on local news and online, was instrumental in helping civic and business leaders appreciate how much an arena of that scale could benefit the City. I went along on the visit, hired a videographer in Lincoln to shoot the footage and then worked with JPixx in Virginia Beach to edit the text and interviews into a cohesive five-and-a-half minute narrated package.

There is yet another vote in early 2015 to solidify the deal between ESG and the City. All indications are that a couple years from now, Virginia Beach will have the largest arena between Washington DC and Raleigh and draw visitors and locals to the Oceanfront during the fall, winter and spring when tourists are back at home and school.