Local News

Officials Expect Financial Loss In 1st Year Of Proposed Raleigh Convention Center

Posted April 2, 2003 6:23 a.m. EST

— A steering committee made its final recommendations Wednesday for the proposed Raleigh Convention Center.

The recommended site for the proposed convention center and headquarters hotel is west of the existing Raleigh Convention and Conference Center that is bounded by Salisbury, Cabarrus, Lenoir and McDowell streets.

Officials say the new convention center will cost about $200 million to build. Officials say that money is already available through the hotel and meals tax. The new center would measure 500,000 square feet and there are plans to build a 450-room hotel.

Sam Yehia is certain a new convention center would bring more customers to his deli in downtown Raleigh.

"I think it's a super idea. We really need it for a long time. I think it's going to help businesses downtown, increase traffic in the downtown area," he said.

Officials say the existing convention center loses about $1.5 million a year and the new center would lose approximately $2 million a year, but supporters say it would have a greater economic impact for the businesses in the area.

"The projected loss for the new center for the first year on average would be $2 million, but never getting above $2.1 million," said Mike Patterson, chairman of the steering committee. "The economic impact would go from $35 million today to the end of the first five years of the center to $85 million."

Officials also predict the project would create 1,000 new jobs, but not everyone agrees that the math adds up.

"I think there's a possibility that it can happen, but it is a possibility and in my mind, it's still a substantial question mark," said Ed Jones, a member of the steering committee and the Wake County Taxpayer's Association.

The recommendations will go before the Raleigh City Council and county commissioners later in April. If approved, bids for the project could go out by this summer.