Convention Center does not yet cost enough

Panorama of Downtown Spokane, Washington looki...

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Convention center expansion hinges on tax vote – Spokesman.com – Feb. 23, 2011.

5 years after building a bigger convention center, the Spokane Public Facilities District wants more tax money to enlarge the center again. This quote in the news story caught my eye:

City Councilman Steve Corker said he has “mixed feelings” about pursuing an expanded convention center. Spokane is “on the cusp” of being able to attract larger conventions, he said, but that ability is hindered by air travel to the city.

Others are noticing the 50% drop in non-stop air connections, reduction in passengers and cargo at our local airport (more here), and that multiple hops to reach our city make Spokane a more expensive destination and less convenient for convention travelers to Spokane.

The original expansion program was approved in a 2002 vote. Since then, in spite of spending $191 million on airport improvements and $95 million in the convention center expansion, non-stop service went from 16 to 11 (or just 10, year round), and airport traffic has gone down. Let’s do more of the same and hope it gets better?  

Spokane needs an over arching “big picture” view of all the issues and programs. As noted earlier, all of these numerous proposals for tax and fee hikes are a consequence of a failed economy. Few leaders ever talk about all of the issues as one big issue – instead, they attempt to divide and conquer by talking about each item as if it were just one isolated issue. They are not.

The primary purpose of the convention center expansion proposal is to transfer money from tax payers to downtown land owners, hotels and restaurants.

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