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Convention center will benefit few Raleigh residents directly

Posted August 21, 2008

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— When the city's new downtown convention center opens next month, it will represent a $221 million public investment to revitalize the area, but it is a facility that most Raleigh residents will never use.

The budget for building the convention center grew by almost 25 percent from its initial price tag. Rodger Krupa, the director of the facility, blamed the cost overruns on higher prices for steel and other materials and on initial budgets that didn't include the cost of buying the land and some design changes.

Still, Krupa said the finished product is worth the cost.

"I think this is the nicest public building that's been built in the city of Raleigh – (even) Wake County – maybe ever," he said.

The convention center fulfills "a promise that we made to our citizens" to reshape downtown and please visitors to Raleigh, he said.

"We want to make sure that we roll out the red carpet for all these convention delegates," said Dennis Edwards, president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The center already has booked 140 conventions, which Edwards said should bring an average of almost 1,000 people to Raleigh for four days at a time.

"We want to make sure all the businesses know who's coming," he said.

Managers of the 101 Lounge and Cafe, which recently opened, are looking forward to serving people attending the first convention at the new center next month.

"We care about them coming here," Dina Jirjis said. "Whatever the convention center is offering to the public, we would take their spillover."

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  • chance Aug 25, 2008

    *CAROLINA GIRL* In the event you go back and read this ... Obviously you work at the CVB so please answer the following question: IF there are sooooo many sales people actively selling ALL Wake County Hotels (which I know for a FACT the sales force has been reduced), can you please explain how come the bookings for ALL hotels less the downtown hotels have dropped of tremendously? ALL the hotels in the county are talking to one another and they're ALL asking the same question.

    Also, let's be real ... of the 18,000 people employeed in the hospitality industry in Wake County, only a VERY small percent will be directly benefit by the convention center. If anything, many will loose revenue due to events moving from the RBC Center, Fairgrounds and various other venues down to the Convention Center. Yes, those local events you spoke of already take place in the area so the new Convention Center will only be stealing that business from others.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Aug 22, 2008

    carolinagirl,

    You really HAVE drunk the koolaid - or you are one of the hired "spin doctors." If you aren't, maybe you should consider a career change...

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Aug 22, 2008

    Oh, they have saved me plenty! I guess a BILLION dollar bond (that is a tax BTW) is a real savings!!!

    Try and tell me about saving me tax dollars! It is still a HUGE waste to have built a new complex when the old one was just FINE. Except it didn't pad enough people's pockets (with MY tax dollars) to renovate the existing facility...

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Aug 22, 2008

    Parking? Not needed. Gotta keep the tow truck operators in business, ya know...

  • carolinagirl2007 Aug 22, 2008

    Specific to the commentary of the new Raleigh Convention Center not benefitting local residents, more than 18,000 people are employed in the hospitality industry in Wake County representing more than $486 million in payroll income. The new center will create 500+ new jobs. Additionally the center will play host to not only conventions for visitors but also host shows for residents including boat shows, auto shows, The debutant ball, graduations for both local high schools and colleges.

  • carolinagirl2007 Aug 22, 2008

    The $221 million dollar building is being funded through the interlocal tax consisting of lodging tax and prepared food and beverage tax. A large portion of these taxes are paid for by visitors to Wake County, not residents.

    A few facts - Visitor spending in the Capital City area generated more than $110 million in state ($68 million) and local ($42 million) tax receipts last year, according to TIA.

    Equally important, those revenues actually save residents taxes by generating tax revenues through their local spending, which in turn are used for education, school construction, water, sewer and other necessities. If these tax revenues were not generated by visitors, the local taxpayers would need to provide the revenue if the current level of service and amenities in Wake County were to be maintained….this saved residents approximately $300 per household.

  • rc4nc Aug 22, 2008

    Still won't have any parking. Why would anyone put a facility like that where there's no parking?

  • pack-man Aug 22, 2008

    that building is pretty impressive. i went through it the other day. it will be used for many things. those that are involved with society in some way will no doubt at some point be at an event there. it is capable of handling so much. while it cost a lot, you can definitely see where the money was spent. it is pretty impressive for a city like raleigh.

  • carolinagirl2007 Aug 22, 2008

    Chance, just to clarify ...the CVB has 2 sales managers that are dedicated to selling the convention center only,Their Salaries are paid directly by the Convention Center, not the CVB. The CVB have 4 others, to include the Director of sales who sales that sell all of wake ccounty area hotels. The sports sales Department have 3 people on their staff selling all wake county hotels as well. The message to all is to promote Wake county as a destination, not just downtown.

  • Fun Aug 22, 2008

    $220 million is alot of money to spend on NEW civic center which is SMALLER than the old one. While facilities are a nice, why not spend 1/4 or less of the money to "update" the facility that raleigh had in place. That would not have built the "MEEKER LEGACY" to launch a more significant professional political career then just a lowly mayor. He did with our money. I never voted for the weasel myself.

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