Lynchburg could soon get a new venue for concerts and major events.

On Wednesday night we told you about Liberty University's offer to build a civic center on Candlers Mountain Road. City leaders responded to the idea Thursday.

Right now the proposed site is a parking lot for Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty Christian Academy. Both properties may have to move, if the arena is built.

At this point city leaders aren't sure whether this option will be viable for a civic center, but they're giving it serious consideration.

If Lynchburg leaders had a wish list, a civic center would be near the top. They've been talking about building one for more than 20 years.

"Getting a civic center here sooner than later is a great idea,” said Christine Kennedy of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber Of Commerce.

Liberty University is offering to make the wish a reality. The school wants to build a large arena and parking deck on property that now belongs to Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Lynchburg's city government would own and operate the facility, and Liberty would lease it for different events. City manager Kimball Payne is reviewing the idea.

"This is an opportunity that we have to take a serious look at, to see if we can do this for the benefit of the community," Payne said.

The proposal is welcome news to Lynchburg's business and civic leaders, like Christine Kennedy.

"If we can fast track a project that will provide more conference space and meeting space, and bring more visitors to the community, I think it's a great idea," Kennedy said.

Liberty's offer is only available for a limited time. If the city doesn't act quickly, the school may move ahead with plans to expand its existing arena on campus.

Payne is doing what he can to give the proposal serious and quick consideration.
"This time of year is very difficult, as we try to work through the budget, to find the time we need to give this the analysis it deserves,” Payne said.

The city isn't the only group that needs to make a decision. Leaders at Thomas Road Baptist Church would also need to approve the idea.

Even though the church is closely connected with Liberty, the two are separate entities. Officials at TRBC would have to vote on whether to relocate, before anything new can be built on this site.