Steve Wedeen, principle at Vaughn Wedeen Kuhn, makes a strong case in the Journal today that the proposed Convention Hotel and Events Center offers enormous economic benefits for the city and region:
"... our convention industry is in a tailspin and falling fast because we cannot accommodate the really lucrative events that other cities are attracting. And I'm not just talking about Las Vegas, Nev., or Los Angeles or Phoenix. I'm talking about places like Oklahoma City and Indianapolis and Austin. These are all cities that have invested in similar projects to the one being proposed for Albuquerque. And they are reaping the rewards, while we are being methodically put out of business...
"... Think about your professional, trade, charity or hobby organizations. They all have conventions, meetings, conferences and expos. If you're a doctor, where does the AMA meet? If you're a carpenter, where is your annual national union meeting? The answer, unfortunately is simple. Not here. But why? We have a beautiful city and state. Gorgeous weather. Lots to do. Santa Fe, one of the top five destinations in the country is only a train ride up the hill.
... this project isn't just about basketball or arena football, concerts or religious gatherings. It's not just about attracting the rodeo or a monster truck event. It's about our economy. It's about jobs. Thousands of them. It's about spending a dime to get a dollar back. The proposed $400 million probably will require about $15 million a year, with five, maybe 10 times that coming back into our economy. And now, with construction costs significantly lower, possible federal stimulus programs, not to mention contributions that may be made by the county, region or state, the cost could be much lower than originally estimated."