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20131108 EDINBURG New-arenaEdinburg leaders said an 8,500-seat arena planned to open in the next few years will be a smaller, nicer version of the Toyota Center in Houston with high-tech equipment, comfortable seats and first-class dining.

Owners of Rio Grande Valley Vipers will foot the bill for the $50 million, 115,799 square-foot facility. It’ll be built on 40 acres east of Interstate 69C on Alberto Road. There also will be pad sites for a hotel, restaurants and additional parking.

City leaders and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation announced the project in partnership with the Vipers at a news conference last week.

“We’re always known as McAllen’s little brother, but we’re growing,” Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia said. “Of course it’s going to be a big shot in the arm for the city of Edinburg, but it’s going to be good for everyone.”

The arena will be built by Cantu Construction & Development Company, owned by Alonzo Cantu, who also is majority owner of the Vipers. Previously, Cantu had donated the land to the city.

The city has agreed to waive $20 million in new property tax revenue through a 30-year tax increment reinvestment zone to help offset the costs of the building.

“That’s how we’ve been doing a lot of these projects,” Garcia said. “You build it, you pay for it, and we’ll give you a little bit back.”

The Vipers now play out of State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, with a seating capacity of about 5,500. The Vipers plan to serve out their contract with State Farm Arena and then move into the new arena in 2017.

“Alonzo Cantu, he always does things first class and quickly, and I think that’s a good thing,” Garcia said.

With 8,500 seats, Garcia said the arena will attract more concerts to the area because many promoters see that as the minimum required to make a profit in the area. He added that another announcement will be made soon on a 95-acre project next door to the arena.

The arena project has been in the works for years. Vipers Team President Bert Garcia said he and Vipers CEO Rene Borrego went to an arena summit five years ago, and that’s when discussions with Edinburg city leaders began. It all started to gather momentum about nine months ago.

“The city was confident in the numbers we were putting up, and the city was aggressive,” Bert Garcia said. “They had a great attitude and they kept coming.”

Garcia estimated the arena would bring in $96 million to the community during the construction process and $45 million annually.

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