New Arena Planed for Horry County, S.C.

He was the quintessential coach at halftime, inspiring his team to go in for the big win Tuesday night.

"All of us have an opportunity to create a dream," said Larry Biddle, who began as one of the first basketball coaches at Coastal Carolina University in 1965. "We need every one of you to be with us, and we can move forward on a quest for excellence for all stake-holders."

But Biddle wasn't talking to a sweaty basketball team, he was urging Horry County Council to help finance a new sports arena at the university to replace the gymnasium that has been home to the Chanticleers for more than 30 years.

The council passed the $4 million bond issue for the second time Tuesday, setting the proposal up for a third and final decision in January.

"This was a very important night," said Mary Eaddy, spokeswoman for the developer, Coastal Carolina Arena LLC. Council support "seems to be pretty solid from what we have seen here tonight."

The new $35 million arena would replace what many say is an inadequate facility and provide a county venue for other entertainment.

Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland said she is sometimes criticized as a Pollyanna but that she thinks there will be no financial problems.

"I believe this arena will do just fine because I know the people of Horry County will support it," she said.

Council members were concerned last month over court battles that could arise if the developer defaulted on the county-issued bonds.

Coastal Carolina Arena LLC fell short of producing a letter of credit from a bank as security, but council members agreed few banks would issue the letter without council approval of the project. The company did supply the council with a letter from a bank interested in securing the funding arrangement.

Three councilmen voted against the loan: Howard Barnard, Mike Ryan and Carl Schwartzkopf.

Under the funding agreement, the county would issue $4 million in bonds and allow the company to pay off the bonds instead of paying taxes on the project, a period that would last 20 years.

Councilman Marion Foxworth praised the funding arrangement.

"This is not going to be a county arena," Foxworth said. "It is not going to be built with county money period."

He said the project should be a model for other developments and growth planning.

Conway approved support of the project last month.