VIRGINIA BEACH--Some military veterans are expressing concerns about a proposed new arena in the resort city. they're worried because in at least one of the artist's renderings, the new structure is drawn directly on top of the Tidewater Veterans Memorial.
The gathering place has been an important part of the fabric of Hampton Roads since its opening back in 1988. In is the centerpiece of the city's annual Memorial Day and Labor Day parades. Numerous veterans, living and deceased, have memorial bricks at the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park.
"These people here, they gave their lives, a lot of them, and we want them to be enshrined in peace and remain there," said Korean War Veteran Floyd Newkirk. "So this is why we're concerned over what's going to happen."
We took those worries to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms. He said the drawings are just that--drawings--and they can be erased. He said the plan is to protect the memorial. "I can assure you that there is going to be a large plaza area around any arena that is developed across from the convention center, " Sessoms said. "And that plaza area will be around the memorial. So, the memorial will be protected."
Sessoms said arena negotiations are in their very early stages, and there is still a long way to go before a deal is in place. Still, he said he's hopeful construction can begin by Jan. 1, 2015.