Right now it's just an open lot across the street from Canal Park, but it could be an $80 million arena built an extra quarter at a time.


AKRON -- Right now the area across Main Street from Canal Park is empty, serving as surface parking lots. But it could be an $80 million arena for the city, county and even university to share.

"The JAR's getting a little old. Need more room. Akron's getting pretty big at basketball," said University of Akron student Matthew Metcalf. "So I feel like, having a new stadium, they deserve it."

But do taxpayers deserve to the foot the bill? It's a proposal many people Channel 3 News talked to hadn't heard about, yet.

"As far as the arena goes, that shouldn't be on us. Some of these other public service things, yeah, we should probably be responsible for," said Paul Khacagrian.

Summit County voters will decide in November: should the sales tax go up to 7 percent? It would raise the county an additional $20 million a year. A third of it annually would be devoted to developing a 8,500 seat space for concerts and sporting events that could serve as the new home of the Zips, at no cost to Akron U.

The rest of the funding would help address other county issues: upgrading and modernizing emergency radio and 9-1-1 systems and increasing funding to the sheriff's office to address an understaffed, and at times unsafe, jail.

"I know we were talking about how it would go to help support the understaffed jails, I think that's great. The basketball arena? I'm not so sure," said Bronlynn Thurman.

"I don't want my sales tax going up. I'm a homeowner, I have taxes to pay every other way," said Becky Bose.

Supporters say, in the end, a profitable new venue would be an economic boost for all.

Especially with it being downtown, you're going to have more traffic coming through. Not only college students. Instead of it just being up on Exchange Street, it's going to be down here on Main Street," said Metcalf.

Monday's 9-2 County Council vote means the issue will go to voters in the general election on November 4.

At 6.75 percent, Summit County has the lowest sales tax in the state, as does Stark County. Cuyahoga County is 8 percent, in comparison.

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