Courtney Blethen / The Seattle Times
Don’t forget the convention center
Editor, The Times:
Recent news stories regarding the city’s plan to address KeyArena and return the NBA to Seattle fail to mention critical facts about the funding plan that could affect the outcome [“Seattle wants to divert hotel taxes to fund KeyArena remodel, get NBA team,” Times, News, Oct. 25].
The Washington State Convention & Trade Center is in the preliminary stages of a plan for a much-needed expansion that will rely heavily on the taxes mentioned in these news reports. The bulk of the 7-percent tax in question is dedicated to retiring the existing debt and would be the source for debt service of the expansion. It is uncertain whether these taxes are sufficient to fund both the convention center and KeyArena.
It is important that these taxes be used for their original purpose and that the convention center continues to produce revenues for the city and state
Our convention center is recognized as one of the best-managed facilities of its kind and its revenue per square foot is among the highest in the U.S. However, our facility is increasingly outsized by convention-center expansions in key competing cities.
We rank 68th in the nation and many lucrative meeting and convention groups have outgrown us. We’re turning down more business than we’re booking.
The convention center has engaged a team of professionals to study the feasibility, cost and financing strategies attendant to the proposed expansion. And, in light of current economic conditions, we have been analyzing the financing capabilities of this tax stream. When these studies are complete, I am sure our hotel-industry leaders and those of us associated with the convention center would be pleased to discuss possible solutions for KeyArena.
–Frank Finneran, Seattle