News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Rich Laden, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 23, 2004 - Key members of the city's lodging industry say they oppose using public money to build a 400-room convention center and hotel in downtown Colorado Springs.
At issue is a proposal by business and civic leaders to use mostly public money to build a 155,000 square-foot convention center and an adjoining hotel on downtown's southwest side, which the city has targeted for redevelopment.
Project backers want to finance the complex largely by tapping portions of the Springs' lodging tax, parking revenues and a fee the city pays to retailers who collect its sales tax.
Lodging industry representatives say they don't object to public funding of the convention center. The hotel, however, would compete for non-convention center guests and events.
"It will compete for corporate business travelers, it will compete for the local wedding market, it will compete for local, state and regional meetings, it will compete for catering and banquet business," The Broadmoor hotel President Steve Bartolin said. The 700-room Broadmoor is building a 60,000-square-foot exhibition hall with private money.
Larry Vitagliano , general manager of the 292-room Antlers Adam's Mark, recently purchased by out-of-state interests, also voiced opposition.
"We invested private money in this hotel, as have many other private investors in Colorado Springs," he said. "To have a hotel compete with us that's funded with public money seems fundamentally unfair."
Jackie Duff, president of the 70-member Pikes Peak Lodging Association, said an association committee is studying the hotel funding scheme and likely will recommend members oppose it when they meet next month.
Whether the lodging industry's concerns sway council members isn't known. The council is supposed to discuss the funding plan in April.
Mayor Lionel Rivera said Monday he still has many questions about the center's economic benefits and the hotel's projected occupancy.
Vice Mayor Richard Skorman also wants more details. He questions, however, the lodging industry's concerns; he expects large conventions will send guests and delegates to other hotels in town.
Will Temby, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce president, said he and other project backers are sensitive to the lodging industry's concerns. They hope to meet with lodging industry members in the next 30 days.
"We believe the community is at an inflection point," Temby said. "Identifying what happens in the urban redevelopment area and creating something dynamic there will have a huge impact on what this community looks like for decades to come."
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(c) 2004, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.