As you know, it’s a great time to live in Oklahoma City – oil prices are high, the economy is booming, and a new Braum’s is popping up on every corner. What can we say? Life is good.
Naturally, with things going so well, this is the perfect time for Oklahoma City taxpayers to invest $85-million in a convention center hotel that nobody really wanted.
Here are the details via the official propaganda outlet of the Oklahoma City Chamber – NewsOK.com:
Oklahoma City Council approves deal to finance convention center hotel
The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday in favor of public financing for a new downtown hotel, under the Omni luxury brand, to be built adjacent to the MAPS 3 convention center.
The vote was 7-2.
Consultants and experts in the convention business say a headquarters hotel is necessary to the success of the convention center, which is financed by the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax.
Oklahoma City is to provide $85.4 million in financing, while Omni invests $150.1 million.
Yep, investing $85-million in a hotel than nobody really wanted is necessary, say the consultants and experts hired to say those things! Those people are obviously unbiased, and only speak the truth.
Cathy O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, said the hotel fits the concept behind MAPS 3.
“One of the main goals of the MAPS 3 projects was to spur private investment in and around the investments” made by the city, she said.
“This project is designed to create new economic impacts and benefits to Oklahoma City,” O’Connor said, “by attracting additional conventions, visitor, trade show, public exhibition, and other types of public events that require a large quantity of hotel rooms.”
“It will generate increased tourism to Oklahoma City, which is one of the fastest-growing components of our local economy,” she said.
As someone who voted “Yes” for MAPS 3, I would like to respectfully disagree with Ms. O’Conner, and the people with the Chamber of Commerce who tell her what to say. This project doesn’t fit the MAPS concept at all. The idea behind MAPS is that Oklahoma City residents go to the polls to vote on a sales tax that will fund a defined list of projects designed to improve the quality of life for Oklahoma City residents, and in the process, spur private development in areas that need it.
I think it’s better to say this project is a heavy-handed slap in the face to the concept of MAPS. Especially when you consider…
B) The Chamber “worked under the radar” and in secret to develop the hotel funding plan.
C) The city’s raising the $85-million through debt, which means we’ll have to pay interest. That makes as much financial sense as raiding the hotel mini-bar.
After 400 words of promoting the hotel that nobody really wanted to it’s dying block of readers, The Oklahoman decided to throw the Negative Nancy’s a bone and show the other side:
Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner and Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid opposed the financing plan.
Shadid said the plan included hidden costs.
He cited studies that he said show Oklahoma City is at a disadvantage for attracting convention business, because of factors including poor airline connections, less than adequate public transit and weather.
Shadid said the council should allow the public to vote on the financing plan.
“It is their money,” he said. “They deserve to have a say.”
That’s nice and everything, but I think what Ed forgot is that if we put this to a vote of the people, it would likely fail. The Chamber of Commerce and OKC ruling class can’t let that happen! This is one of those times they have to use their connections to elected officials to get around the will of the people and get things done. We’re becoming more and more like a “Big League City” every single day.