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And Yet More Discussion on the Convention Center

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: March 27, 2013
Due to time and space limitations, I was not able to include comments by Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid in today’s story. I delved into some of the concerns he and other expressed in an in-depth story written several weeks ago that you can read here. If you’ve not read it yet, I hope you will now.
I’ve also copied comments he left on my story today as follows:

There are several obstacles to the successful development of our convention center; the development of the convention center hotel is the most pressing.
In a study (which has yet to be released to the public despite calls for its release) prior to the MAPS 3 vote it was made clear that to realize the economic benefits promised to voters, the new $250 million convention center, would have to be accompanied by a 600 room convention center hotel and that no city had been able to develop such a hotel without massive taxpayer subsidies in the previous decade.
The need for such a hotel and the additional massive future taxpayer obligation that the MAPS 3 vote would create was not discussed during the MAPS 3 campaign. In fact, that information was suppressed.
In the three years since the MAPS 3 vote the situation for taxpayers has worsened in cities trying to develop such hotels. The soon to opened 800 room Nashville Omni convention center hotel required a taxpayer subsidy of $128 million plus property tax abatements for 20 years. Nashville councilmembers recently shared with me that they had fear until the end that their subsidy amount would not be enough to get the deal done. Convention center hotels in regional cities like St. Louis and Austin are losing significant amounts of money for taxpayers after their completion.
The City of OKC has not performed any market analysis to indicate what such a convention center hotel would likely cost in the form of taxpayer subsidies.
The City of OKC has NO PLAN for how we would pay for what may be well over $100 million for the development of a hotel along with parking. MAPS3 funds cannot be used to buy the land for a convention center hotel.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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