An arena in downtown Akron long has been viewed as the next big move at the cityís core, a way to sustain and build on the revitalization effort. The idea has been aided by the growing presence of the University of Akron, South Main Street a logical place for the menís basketball to relocate. And now a promising plan has emerged, the city and the university joining with Summit County and the Development Finance Authority, each playing a distinct role.

The proposed arena would cost $76 million to construct and seat 8,500 people. The cost would be covered through a 0.25 percent increase in the county sales tax. That proposed increase must be approved by voters, and it would raise considerably more than the $7 million a year to finance the building of the arena. What would be done with the remaining $12 million a year in new revenue? County leaders point to an assortment of needs, from shortfalls in operating the jail to capital projects such as upgrading the 911 dispatch system and the emergency radio system.

Two elements, especially, work in favor of the tax increase. The overall county sales tax rate, at 6.75 percent, ranks among the lowest in the state, just 22 of 88 Ohio counties with the same rate or lower. More, the county, at 0.5 percent, joins Stark County with the lowest tax rate devoted to funding county government operations.

Consider that such comparable counties as Cuyahoga, Lucas, Hamilton and Montgomery set aside 1 percent to run county government.

That indicates Russ Pry, the Summit County executive, and the County Council have managed well county finances in a difficult time. They have had to navigate declining revenues due in part to budget cuts at the state level. The county work force has shrunk from 3,696 employees in 2008 to 2,939 today. The executive and other officials have given the public reason to have confidence in their management and to listen at least to the case for the tax increase.

Proponents of the arena cite success stories elsewhere. The Huntington Center in Toledo, with seating of 8,000, has operated in the black with 100 events a year. The same goes for similar facilities in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Backers say the early projections for the Akron arena have leaned conservative, 67 events and a small surplus in year one.

The arena has the potential to be a valuable addition, and one well worth pursuing. Proponents know that many voters will bring skepticism. Thus, the campaign in the next six months must be full-throated, practical and precise in explaining what the arena would deliver and how the remaining money of the $19 million a year would benefit the county as a whole.

Many pieces have fallen into place. Now proponents must ensure that voters see the value.