City Officials Discuss LU Civic Center Proposal

Lynchburg, VA - Liberty University released a draft proposal to the public Wednesday night, showing a potential site for a new civic center on Candlers Mountain Road right next to Thomas Road Baptist Church.

City officials got the proposal three weeks ago, but because of budget discussions they haven't been able to spend much time looking it over.

Leaders, however, say in order to build a center that could pump millions of dollars into the local economy, it will cost millions first.

"I'm hopeful as the budget process winds down we'll have time to give this the review that it needs," said Lynchburg City Manager Kimball Payne.

"There's no formal proposal, it's just an outline and it's stamped draft. So our goal is to get a discussion started," said LU President Jerry Falwell Jr.

"Then we'll sit down and have a conversation about, 'ok, this idea is worth exploring. How do we make it work, how do we modify it so it works out to the benefit of both Liberty University and the community?'" said Payne.

The proposed civic center off Candlers Mountain Road is already causing excitement around Lynchburg.

"Having them come here, spend some money and leave is a great thing. And it exposes our region to more people that might not have been here if we didn't have a venue or a place to come for a big event," said Interim President of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce Christine Kennedy.

Both city and university leaders are saying don't count the number of seats in your stadium until it's built.

"This is all going to be about what the facility costs and how can the facility be paid for, and what benefit will it provide to the community," Payne said.

L.U. President Jerry Falwell Junior says his school needs to expand, and they're looking to spend about $20 million to do it; either in additions or a new civic center.

"Offer that money to the city and say, 'Ok we'll pay this amount that it would cost us over here, to help you create a civic center, if you want to do it,'" Falwell said.

Payne says the city already has a long to-do list with a big bill attached, including a new Heritage High School.

Both men say any real work on a civic center will take a lot more song and dance.

"It all works on paper, whether it makes sense for the city and Liberty, remains to be seen," Falwell said.

Even though Liberty is willing to loan the city $20 million for construction, Payne says civic centers cost about $10,000 a seat to build.