Mayor Berry: Time to Stand Against Convention Center/Arena Boondoggle

City Council (minus Dan Lewis and perhaps Brad Winter) is obsessed with wasting $400 million of your tax dollars on a convention center expansion. At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Council voted 7-1 with Lewis opposing and Winter abstaining to ask the mayor to enter into an agreement with Albuquerque Public Schools to secure at least part of the First Baptist Church property for the events center/convention center expansion. APS is already moving forward with an $11.3 million offer for the site (a questionable deal in and of itself), at Broadway and Central, for use as a fine arts magnet school and performing arts charter school.

The City needs to expand its convention center about as much as we need higher taxes in this down economy. Oops, we’ve already got that. It’s just that a majority of the Council thinks 7% gross receipts tax is just too low. Effective July 1, 2010 our tax rate will increase from 6.625% to 7% for previously-enacted tax hikes. As we’ve pointed out in the past, the gross receipts is the worst tax imaginable.

The case against these projects is compelling from the left and the right. But plenty of special interests are pushing the issue and will not back down until the Mayor takes a firm stand for fiscal restraint and against higher taxes. Tell him what you think by clicking here.

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4 Replies to “Mayor Berry: Time to Stand Against Convention Center/Arena Boondoggle”

  1. Let’s see. The Railrunner was projected to cost about 150 million to build and will end up costing 450 to 500 million. Oh, and ticket sales pay for 13% of the operating budget. Gee, I wonder where the money will come from to pay for the operating deficit?

    Any lessons learned that can be applied to other large public building projects?

  2. I agree with Paul Gessing! Imagine that. A little history is in order. Once the convention center was built and wasn’t living up to the promises of it’s supporters, civic leaders decided that the convention center wasn’t doing better because it wasn’t large enough. So, a convention center that was dark most of the year was expanded at great cost to taxpayers, and it is still dark most of the year. Next, convention center management went before the City Council with a new “silver bullet” to solve the convention center’s problems. The managers had decided that their problems lay in the convention center having to use city employees, in spite of massive documentation from event planners that the city employees at the convention center were doing an outstanding job with their events. The real problem with the convention center was that management was doing a poor job of marketing their facility. Convention center managers got their way. The City Council approved privatizing the employees at the center but did nothing to address marketing problems. Once again, the push is on to expand the convention center. Questions: How much more of tax-payers hard earned money will city government throw into the money pit that is the convention center before they realize it’s not going to succeed? When will convention center management’s marketing failures be addressed? Assuming this facility is constructed and, against all odds, is successful, where will attendees park? Many of the casinos owned and operated by the Native American groups have convention facilities. Many large hotels also have convention facilities. Let’s get taxpayer dollars out and let the Native Americans and private enterprise in. And while we’re at it, let’s sell the Albuquerque Convention Center to a willing buyer.

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