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Bay Center debate: Two proposals made to commissioners, but no decisions made

Bay Center debate: Two proposals made to commissioners, but no decisions made

Escambia County commissioners aren't any closer to upgrading or replacing the Pensacola Bay Center.

On Tuesday, they heard two preliminary proposals to do just that with the expectation of Triumph money, but they came away with no solution.

Retrofit or replace the aging Bay Center? It's an issue being debated by Escambia County commissioners. Two groups have made pitches.

Hunt ICC has proposed tearing down the Bay Center and building a new arena and accompanying fieldhouse with $25 million in Triumph funds as the key funding.

Commissioner Grover Robinson favors the plan.

"To just put more money into the Bay Center, I'm not for that. I believe that building is on a very short life cycle," Robinson said.

Two other options from the current Bay Center management SMG - call for a $2.25 to $7 million Bay Center renovation with much less Triumph money involved.

Commissioner Lumon May is hesitant to push too much Triumph funds to one project when the county's needs are many, and he isn't convinced the Bay Center should go.

"Is that the direction? The building needs to be torn down? Vote me in today if it needs to be torn down. But if it does not need to be torn down, I'm not going to tear it down for the sake. I mean, we're not going to buy a new car just because she wants one," May said.

Hotelier Nash Patel spoke on behalf of the hunt pitch. He said, in the end, it's about the economic impact.

"Let's focus on the economic impact for Escambia, about the jobs we are going to get, the amount of heads in beds we are going to get. The return on investment that's going to happen from a new facility," he said.

No vote was taken on any proposal. Instead, the conversation will continue in January 2018.

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