What's next? Arena supporters still hopeful after unanimous 'no' vote

What's next? Arena supporters still hopeful after unanimous 'no' vote

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The New Orleans Pelicans say they just are trying to find a home for their G League team.

The New Orleans Pelicans organization respects the Shreveport City Council's vote against issuing funds to build a sports complex along Cross Bayou, spokesman Greg Bensel said.

A statement he released Wednesday afternoon also says:

"Our focus is finding a location for our G League team, and that is our only focus. The other developmental plans for that area are not part of our RFP, simply finding a location for our G League team is.

"The Saints and Pelicans appreciate the city of Shreveport for their support, and we will continue to do community outreach there. We consider Shreveport part of the Saints and Pelicans family."

Also Wednesday, Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler said she is disappointed but respectful of council members' unanimous vote Tuesday.

Council members voted 6-0 against Resolution 147 which would have activated the city's bond team to begin pursuing options for paying $30 million in dedicated revenue bonds for the sports complex.

Councilman Willie Bradford says the vote surprised him.

"I was shocked... I thought it was going to go down 4-3 in favor at least to take us to the next phase but I will say that if they would have done that they would have been so in rejection of the voices of our citizens."

City leaders have been in talks for months about building the complex along four parcels of land on Cross Bayou near the Shreveport Waterworks Museum. The arena was meant to help lure a New Orleans Pelicans G-League team to the city.

Regardless of the "No" vote, Tyler said she will not stop pursuing business and industry in Shreveport.

"I'm going to do what God put me here to do, and that is to make this city better. If it's his will ... I'm not broken,"

The competition for the NBA team now stands between Shreveport and Pensacola, Fla.

"It was unfortunate that we turned a company away with $139 million to invest. ... But I respect the council's decision," Tyler said.

Slam Dunk for Shreveport was a group of local investors dedicated to promoting the arena and the benefits it would have on the area. Tyler Comeaux, the group's front runner, says the ball hasn't completely left the court.

"Not sure if the city will be able to salvage this deal, I know a couple of other councilmen had wanted to restart this deal with bringing in outside parties such as the DDA... I don't have any problem with that, it's just the fact of if we're actually going to have a second chance."

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch said most of the opposition she has heard is about the arena. "The private dollars? I have no problem with the private development."

City officials said the sports complex could be the centerpiece of other development in that area, including retail and residential spaces.

The city received a $139 million offer from out-of-state developer Corporate Realty to help fund the complex.

"We're going to move forward. ... We have people who believe in us, but some of us don't believe in ourselves," Tyler said.

Whether the arena project will proceed from this point, the mayor said she does not know. "Until I have those conversations, I'm not sure about that.

"The one disadvantage that we had as a team was that they could not reveal too much about the project without tipping off Pensacola," Tyler added.

Indeed, the biggest complaint from many residents and council members Tuesday night was that they didn't know enough about the cost of the project to proceed.

"There is a thick fog over the details of this project," Councilman Michael Corbin said. "There's misunderstandings."

"One of the things that I made note of is the fact that we've got to build more pride in our city," Tyler said

Councilman Willie Bradford added that the $30 million bond can easily go to things such as property standards, and minority businesses even though it was meant for riverfront development.

"The riverfront fund money was designed and mandated to go to the Riverfront development. And for 18 years that fund has been subsidizing city operations. That money has been used. There's less than $5 million in that fund."

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