Will Baton Rouge get a new events and sports venue?

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey have something in common—they both want a venue that can properly host sports and entertainment in Baton Rouge, WBRZ-TV reports.

While Baton Rouge has the River Center, Broome and Mulkey―along with several Metro Council members―say the River Center just doesn’t meet standards to host larger scale events.

“It needs a lot of tender loving care to bring it to what it needs to be, but even with a significant amount of investment, the River Center—in terms of capacity—wouldn’t get Baton Rouge to the level to host some of these larger scale events,” Metro Councilman Rowdy Gaudet says.

According to LSU, neither can the PMAC, which is why the Tiger Athletic Foundation is moving forward to build a new arena for sports and entertainment.

As part of its plans, TAF has asked the Metro Council to enter into an agreement that would restrict the kind of events held there, including any concerts or shows that exceed 3,500 attendees. The agreement is to assure developers the two venues would not compete for events.

“I would say the gain is the fact that we are going to have a new asset located on LSU’s campus that can bring large scale entertainment to large scale venues that Baton Rouge really and truly should be hosting,” Gaudet says.

In a statement sent to WBRZ, the mayor called the potential venue “an opportunity … to bring a significant parishwide benefit.”

As of yet, there are no estimates for the cost of such a project, but according to the Metro Council’s draft ordinance, it will be structured as a public-private partnership estimated to exceed $300 million. TAF is expected to pay for part of the project.

Part of the proposal also includes turning the River Center into a hub for conventions and potentially a hotel to accommodate those guests.

Baton Rouge has struggled for years to recruit sizable concerts to the Raising Cane’s River Center. Last year, local legislators supported bills that would allow East Baton Rouge Parish to offer a local sales tax rebate on admission to major live music and entertainment events that meet minimum paid attendance requirements. Read a recent Business Report feature about Baton Rouge’s latest efforts to attract major concerts to the city.

Read the full story from WBRZ-TV.