New Southside arena for minor league Hawks could cost millions

College Park will pay $20 million to $40 million to build an arena for a new NBA minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks, according to city manager Terrence Moore.

That’s for a city with a population of about 15,000, which is less than the average attendance at Hawks games in downtown Atlanta where the primary team plays.

Last week, College Park and team officials unveiled the city's plans for a 3,500-seat arena that would have the Hawks new Development League (D-League) team and host other community functions. But the initial announcement didn't include cost estimates.

When later pressed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Moore said the cost could be anywhere from $10 million to $30 million. Within moments he revised that to $20 million to $40 million, which he said was a “very preliminary” range.

Finalized cost estimates should be available early next year after further analysis is completed, he said.

“We are evaluating a couple sources” for funding, Moore said.

One option is tapping into an existing special tax collected from a district around the sprawling Georgia International Convention Center where the new arena would be located. That’s near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The city also is contemplating construction of a 500-space parking deck which would serve both the new arena and the existing convention center. Moore said the costs for the deck may or may not be included in the $20 million to $40 million arena cost.

The Hawks D-League team would pay rent starting at $5,000 per game, according to Moore, with about 36 games expected annually. A revenue analysis provided by the city contemplates about 2,200 attendees per game.

College Park officials also hope to use the venue for other paying events, including concerts, theater productions, cheerleading and other competitions, comedy acts and school graduations.

Serving those multiple purposes will help support the facility financially and fill a need for such space on metro Atlanta’s Southside, Moore said.

The arena is slated for completion in the summer of 2019.

The Hawks have been busy on other projects this year. The team negotiated with the city of Atlanta for a $192.5-million renovation of Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. Most of that upfront cost would be covered by public funds. And the city of Brookhaven's economic development agency has agreed to allow millions of dollars in property tax breaks for a new Hawks practice facility.

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