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Denver’s mayor proposes new arena as part of $450 million infrastructure bond proposal

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s plans for a $450 million infrastructure bonding package to put to voters includes a new, mid-size “state-of-the-art” arena.

He made the announcement during his annual State of the City address, conducted virtually on Monday morning. He dedicated much of the speech to the topics of homelessness, criminal justice and post-pandemic resilience.

The infrastructure package represented the most substantial spending proposal in the speech. A $450 million investment, he said, “will help create 7,500 good-paying jobs, $483 million in worker wages and benefits, and $1 billion in economic benefits.

“And that’s just for the construction,” he added.

Hancock did not specify where the new arena would go or why it is needed. A spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the proposal, beyond it being a “mid-sized” arena. He said he would be referring his bonding proposal, which was first mentioned in late April, to City Council this week.

Other spending that Hancock detailed in the State of the City address comes from the federal American Rescue Plan: $28 million for affordable housing projects and creating “a specialized team to prioritize these projects for permit review and approval”; and $21 million for businesses, nonprofits and neighborhoods.

The mayor also said an unidentified “portion” of the city’s marijuana sales tax money will go toward building a more equal playing field in the cannabis industry for people of color and women by establishing “a new revolving loan fund to support these and other businesses” with the goal of $50 million in the fund.

On policing and criminal justice, Hancock said he feels too many “violent criminals” are being released too soon from custody.

“There must be a balance between reform that keeps low-level non-violent folks from going to jail in the first place, and our residents’ safety,” he said. “One cannot come at the expense of the other.”

But he also lauded those “who stood up and engaged when they saw unjust laws and actions by the system.”

“They marched and protested, but they didn’t stop there,” said the mayor, who one year ago defended forceful responses by police against people who protested police brutality and systemic racism.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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