www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Counting on Les -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Building bills in the Legislature -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Tale of the tree -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Seismic activity -1/27/2015, 9:22 AM

Where are the good guys? -1/27/2015, 9:21 AM

Brownback's budget -1/26/2015, 9:59 AM

Committee meetings begin -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Excitement starts at Capitol -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

What's happening with oil prices? -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Synthetic biology, brave new world -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Today's fierce urgency is voter mobilization -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Duke, Muslims and politics of intimidation -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Right to hunt -1/25/2015, 5:02 PM

Pipeline: Foreign profits, American risk -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christianity' -- Chapter 3 -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Kiwanis generosity -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

The state economy -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Restate of the union -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

France needs our First Amendment -1/22/2015, 10:23 AM

Repurposing Washington -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

March for Life -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Brownback, the budget and schools -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

Sensible checks are no assault on gun rights -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

Jeb Bush chooses expedience on marriage issue -1/19/2015, 9:50 AM

The State of the State Address and the legislative session -1/19/2015, 8:47 AM

Spending's not the culprit in budget woes -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Pilgrim's paradise -1/18/2015, 3:32 PM

Spring elections -1/18/2015, 3:23 PM

Kobach is back -1/16/2015, 3:04 PM

More with Les -1/16/2015, 10:03 AM

Understanding Hooper -1/16/2015, 10:02 AM

Basic economics -1/16/2015, 10:01 AM

Female governance -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

2015 energy policy -- a unique opportunity -1/15/2015, 9:37 AM

The better option -1/15/2015, 9:36 AM

'Wall Street' a waste -1/14/2015, 2:50 PM

Trade already -1/14/2015, 2:49 PM

No media bias? -1/14/2015, 2:48 PM

Retirement funds -1/14/2015, 2:47 PM

Redefining public education in Kansas -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

What the future holds -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Efficient education -1/13/2015, 10:06 AM

Terrorists usher in the 'End of Satire' -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

Sexuality, lame logic, substandard science -1/12/2015, 9:14 AM

A tragic family story -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

For freedom, LGBT rights, a year of decision -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Roberts' promotion -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

FHSU campaign -1/11/2015, 12:11 PM

Fairness in U.S. -1/9/2015, 3:05 PM

Liberals' use of black people -- Part II -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Social Darwinist 'Christians' -- Chapter 2 -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Taxing situation -1/9/2015, 9:09 AM

Trust: Society depends on it -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Education schools lack a paradigm -1/8/2015, 9:55 AM

Congress convenes -1/7/2015, 10:07 AM

Simple way to fix gridlock: change committees -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Kansas is your customer -1/7/2015, 10:06 AM

Large budget shortfalls await solution -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

The state and funding K-12 education -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Tree removal -1/6/2015, 10:06 AM

Republicans won -- now what? -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Social Darwinist religion, Chapter 1 -1/5/2015, 9:13 AM

Liberals' use of black people -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Ignorance abounds -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Superbug dilemma -1/2/2015, 9:53 AM

Thanks North Korea -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Sony gets the last laugh -12/31/2014, 1:26 PM

Free speech -12/31/2014, 1:16 PM

New Year's resolutions -- sort of -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

A flat-footed backflip for Wall Street -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Dim the lights -12/31/2014, 9:22 AM

Some near-sure bets for the new year -12/31/2014, 9:21 AM

Adios, Rick Perry -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Budget strife means high-anxiety session -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

Time for caution -12/30/2014, 8:20 AM

-12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Court's raw deal -12/29/2014, 10:01 AM

Chris Christie's pork barrel politics -12/29/2014, 10:00 AM

A Festivus Miracle -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

Faith, not politics, keeps Christ in Christmas -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

EPA rule falls short -12/27/2014, 4:18 PM

2014: The year in Kansas higher education -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Methane from cattle -12/26/2014, 9:39 AM

Black progression and retrogression -12/26/2014, 9:38 AM

Up-Lyft-ing Christmas tale -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Terrorism on soft targets -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Story of Christmas -12/25/2014, 1:22 PM

Fabricated column -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

The Christmas spirit dwells in us all -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

Celebrating life -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A visit from St. Nicholas -12/24/2014, 8:21 AM

A look ahead to the Legislature -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

There is a Santa Claus -12/23/2014, 9:34 AM

Cuban sanctions need to be lifted -12/23/2014, 9:33 AM

2016 presidential campaign already boring -12/22/2014, 9:08 AM

A rainbow coalition of protests -12/22/2014, 9:07 AM

Budget needs dynamic leadership, not scoring -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Sure, you can say that -- but please don't -12/21/2014, 1:06 PM

Holiday travel -12/19/2014, 10:16 AM

ALEC's starring role in the 'Wrecking Crew' -12/19/2014, 10:17 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Convention center

Published on -4/27/2014, 2:18 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Some community shortcomings are too large for the private sector to fulfill. At such times, public entities either become a partner or take on the project themselves -- with the blessing of taxpaying constituents.

In Hays, community-betterment ideas that came to fruition via this method could include the aquatic park, golf course, disc golf course, sports complex and historical museum, as well as many programs of various non-profit organizations. City and county governments embark on many ventures that help improve the quality of life.

One of the latest ideas, building a new $8.2 million convention center north of the interstate, appears destined to remain an artist's rendering unless altered dramatically.

Prior to being presented to the Hays City Commission to approve two proposed financing mechanisms, the primary source of funding balked at the plan. Walmart, which does not believe it will benefit from the new facility but whose customers would pay for an estimated 65 percent of the project, let local officials know last week it might not support the CID. The balance would be paid for with an increased hotel bed tax.

"Without Walmart, the funding stream does not work, so we need to discuss how we're going to proceed," said Aaron White, executive director for the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development.

We can't say we blame the blue-vesters. The Hays Walmart store plays an active role supporting the community, but simply didn't see any return on this particular investment and felt the CID was inequitable.

We weren't seeing what Walmart shoppers would get for spending an additional $5.3-plus million during the next 10 years, either. While many in the business sector were expressing support for the project, regular residents were not. Had a city- or countywide sales tax vote been held, it would have been defeated soundly. There just hadn't been a solid financial case presented.

Fort Hays State University certainly would have benefited. The school was planning to operate the facility and use it as a working lab for its Tourism and Hospitality Management program. North Central Kansas Technical College was planning to use the kitchen for its culinary program. Not having to build, buy or lease a facility made the concept appealing, as were the opportunities for students.

The question was going to be whether a convention center not attached to a hotel would draw much business. Most centers have sleeping rooms, meeting rooms and dining facilities all under one roof. Some, such as Junction City and Topeka, fake it by having extremely long, covered hallways connecting them. Newton, on the other hand, is making a go of it by only having a hotel nearby.

We must remind readers about the impetus for the Hays effort. Deteriorating conditions at the former Holiday Inn, then the former Ramada Inn, now the Hays Ambassador Hotel and Conference Center at 3603 Vine, had resulted in the loss of local convention business. Changes in management and pleadings with owners did little to improve what had been called the Hays Convention Center.

So the Economic Development Coalition took on the project. It formed a non-profit 501(c)3 arm that was going to take ownership responsibility, explored various developers and plans and, most recently, had been putting the CID in place.

Meanwhile, it appeared as if the perceived crisis had passed. Transient guest tax collections for the city have increased steadily since 2005 -- 72 percent total. Sales tax receipts likewise have grown, with only 2009 and 2010 registering small decreases. Since 2005, sales tax collections have gone up 45 percent. Likewise, the number of conventions, district meetings, conferences, family reunions, exhibits, etc. are on an upward trend in this time period, other than a dip in 2011 that recovered the following year.

Would these numbers all move even higher if a new convention center was built? No feasibility studies have been conducted, but anecdotal evidence frequently is offered. A letter of support from the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce states: "This facility would provide numerous benefits to the community and have a lasting impact on our businesses for years to come."

Whether that optimism is justified might never be known. We are thankful the project is not moving forward in its current form. Placing the financial responsibility for a convention center on the backs of Walmart shoppers who have little other stake in the project is decidedly unfair.

Supporters of the center need to go back to the drawing board. A CID that utilizes future earnings of the project itself makes sense. So does securing a developer who has skin in the game. And, since we're back to square one, let's pursue a stand-alone facility that includes everything a convention center actually needs.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.

Kansas News