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Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 12:55pm

Savannah Civic Center In Need Of Update

Savannah officials are considering using tax money set aside for a new arena instead to upgrade the city's aging Civic Center.

Officials say the city is losing business because the 40 year old facility isn't at today's standards.

Voters six years ago approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax in part to build a new arena to replace the Civic Center.

But tax revenues came in lower than anticipated because of the recession and officials shifted priorities to other needs.

Now City of Savannah Facilities Director Joe Shearouse says, until there's money for a new arena, the outdated Civic Center needs upgrades to keep it in shape.

"A building that age, a lot of the equipment that we have is original to the building. "So you could imagine over 40 years, the wear and tare," Shearouse says. "So there's mechanical needs, the air conditioning, the heating system, the electrical system. All those have far exceeded their life expectancy."

Shearouse says, the city of Savannah is losing money because the features of the Civic Center are in need of an update.

"When the building was built, it was built for what was at that time, state of the art," Shearouse says. "Well, now you see that our corridors are so narrow and our concession stands are not easily accessed."

Skeptical city council members pan the idea as a "bait and switch."

"I think we've got to look for other ways of financing, either through the general fund or through naming lights or even possible through bonding," says city council member Tony Thomas.

Officials propose shifting $19 million collected for the arena to fix the Civic Center.

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