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US Bank Arena may be torn down, rebuilt but not without help from taxpayers

Nederlander Entertainment, which owns US Bank Arena, is actively working with the city and Hamilton County on a plan to take it down and start over. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A major change could be on the way for Cincinnati's riverfront.

U.S. Bank Arena may be torn down.

Nederlander Entertainment, which owns the facility, is actively working with the city and Hamilton County on a plan to take it down and rebuild. Company CEO Ray Harris said after examining several plans for renovation, demolition is "the best option."

This announcement comes one day after the NCAA announced Cincinnati would host mens' basketball games in 2022. That was only if renovations would be made, but now it looks like the plan is to start over.

Cincinnati has lost major events in the past because US Bank Arena just isn't big enough and is outdated, according to its owners. Nederlander hopes to add luxury boxes and increase seating capacity to 19,000.

"The issue we keep coming back to is that the building is 40 years old. The structure and design of the facility are really not conducive to what you need to have in order to deliver a state of the art facility today," Harris said.

To rebuild the arena would cost between $250 and $350 million.

Preliminary plans are being tossed around, but Harris says the massive rebuild would need to involve financial support from the county's taxpayers. And that's an idea some elected officials aren't OK with.

Cincinnati city council member Yvette Simpson tweeted she doesn't support public dollars on the project, and Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel feels the same way.

"The county already has two stadiums that we own through the taxpayers, and I don't' think we are in any desire to own a third one," he said.

Twenty years ago, a half-cent sales tax for the Reds and Bengals stadiums was approved. Today, it's still an unpopular expense.

"The reality is a new facility doesn't happen without multiple entities participating," said Harris.

"We are not looking to be the Bengals," said Harris. "We are looking to be partners in a good way with the city [and] county to make something good happen for the community. We are not looking to take advantage of anybody or take all the revenue streams out of the pie."

The cost of replacement is currently estimated at $250 to $350 million.

Harris says if everyone can get behind a plan, final design, demolition and construction could all be complete in two years or less.


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