Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bed Tax Will Pay for Arena Upgrade; A New, High-Definition Scoreboard Is a Big Part of Center's Improvements

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bed Tax Will Pay for Arena Upgrade; A New, High-Definition Scoreboard Is a Big Part of Center's Improvements

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

Jacksonville will spend $1.2 million replacing the scoreboard at Veterans Memorial Arena, an expense officials say will help the city grab future NCAA basketball tournament games.

The new, high-definition scoreboard is among the multimillion dollar upgrades the city is doing at the sports complex u mainly at EverBank Field but also at the arena and baseball stadium.

The money comes from a portion of the 6 percent bed tax tacked onto the bills of hotel guests. A 2 percent portion of the tax previously paid off debt for the Prime Osborn Convention Center, but under state law it also can be used at stadiums, exhibit halls, arenas or auditoriums.

Also by law, the bed tax cannot go to the city's general fund.

Starting in October 2010, the 2 percent bed tax was shifted to the sports complex's maintenance fund from the convention center. It generated about $4.2 million for the sports complex in the fiscal year that ended in September and will bring in roughly the same amount for the current fiscal year.

When the arena opened in 2003, its scoreboard "wasn't the most current technology, but it was adequate for the time," said Paul Crawford, deputy executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

Technical glitches caused some problems posting information on the scoreboard during the opening rounds of the NCAA basketball games played in Jacksonville in 2010.

Crawford said the NCAA suggested the city upgrade the scoreboard in order to bring future tournament games here. Mayor Alvin Brown wants Jacksonville to become a destination city for sports tourism.

"All of this comes under the umbrella of the mayor's vision to attract more sports events to the community," Crawford said.

The scoreboard will have high-definition picture quality and enable programming of moving images, said Larry Wilson, general manager of SMG Jacksonville, which manages the sports complex. …

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