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Raleigh City Council Votes Against Spending Money To Study New Convention Center

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RALEIGH — A debate about dollars and cents stopped plans for a new Raleigh convention center Tuesday. The Raleigh City Council decided not to spend $60,000 to study a new center. Rick Armstrong joins us live from downtown Raleigh with details Rick?

This is the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center and it is AT the center of a debate that has been raging for many years. The council vote today would appear to put plans for a new, bigger convention center in Raleigh to rest. But some say it's not a matter of if one will be built but when. -->

Throughout the year, the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center is usually booked. It is a place for big meetings, along with home and garden and auto shows.

David Heinl, president of theGreater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, says real conventions in Charlotte and Greensboro bring big-spending delegates from out of town who stay at nearby hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop in local stores.

"Convention delegates are the ones that most cities like to go after," he says.

Mayor Paul Coble says, in the case of Greensboro, its convention center was privately funded -- an example he would rather follow.

"I think if we're going to have private industry benefitting from it, they should have money in it," he says.

Critics say public investment in a convention center is a tax savings in the long run.

"It brings new money from the outside that is earned outside and spent in our community," Heinl says. "That generates tax revenue that keeps all of our taxes down."

It is a hard sell in a city that is already attracting visitors to new museums and other entertainment options in the future.

"I think the council has decided that now is not the time, perhaps somewhere down the road," Coble says. "When you've got one that's running as well as the facility we have, it doesn't make sense to talk about tearing it down."

Heinl says his organization has not come out one way or the other about tearing down the convention center.

He says the study that the City Council voted not to approve would have explored all options including building a center completely separate from the current one.