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New convention hotel moving forward

Published: 03/03/2014
Salt Lake County, UT — Representative Brad Wilson, Senator Stuart Adams and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said consensus language has been added to a Utah bill for convention facilities and a privately-developed convention hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center with support from the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association, clearing the path for a vote in the Utah House soon.
“With a headquarters hotel, Utah will soon be the Rocky Mountain destination for more large conventions, tens of thousands of new visitors, and millions of dollars in new revenue,” said Mayor McAdams. “This privately-built hotel will also bring us the overdue meeting space that convention planners need and that will help keep the Salt Palace Convention Center bustling more weeks of the year.”
McAdams said the financing model approved in the legislation provides zero risk to Utah taxpayers since the sales tax rebates follow successful operation of the facility.  He said if the hotel doesn’t generate any revenues, it receives no rebates. To address worries from existing hotel owners that the opening of a 1,000-room hotel would harm their bottom line, McAdams said a mitigation fund will be created, using proceeds from the new hotel. Approximately $8 million—spread over four years—will be available for distribution according to a short-term impact formula. 
“Convention visitors are a significant part of our state’s economy,” said Rep. Wilson, the House sponsor of HB 356. “This legislation will help us successfully compete as we seek to attract increasing numbers of convention visitors to our state and it does so in a manner that mitigates any short-term impacts to downtown hotels. With this consensus language, we’ve arrived at a win-win.”
Senator Stuart Adams is the bill’s sponsor in the Utah Senate. Adams lauded the consensus.
“For over 20 years, the effort to attract a privately-built convention headquarters hotel has been held up over concerns about the short-term impacts of a new hotel. With this consensus, we will maximize the local and statewide economic benefit of our convention industry and minimize any short-term impacts. This outcome is a victory for taxpayers and our state’s economy, but it does so in a way that is sensitive to the short-term concerns expressed by several local hotels.”
Jordan Garn, Exec. Director of the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association submitted a letter of support from the organization for the consensus language.
“The Utah Hotel & Lodging Association supports HB 356 after weeks of negotiation produced a compromise that accounts for the potential impacts to existing hotels,” said the letter. “We are hopeful that the convention center hotel, over time, will induce demand and will generate increased traffic into our great state, allowing several industries, including hotels, to thrive. Rep. Wilson and Sen. Adams deserve an immense amount of credit for not only listening to the hotel industry’s concerns, but for finding creative solutions to address them.”
McAdams praised the legislative sponsors for working to forge common ground. He also commended House Speaker Becky Lockhart, who challenged supporters to improve the legislation through a provision that supports statewide tourism marketing and promotion to convention delegates.
“From the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, to the downtown retail community, to the many hospitality businesses in our state, this was a team effort. We’re all excited to see—over the next few years—how new jobs and significant economic impact will flow from what state, county and city leaders have worked to achieve,” said McAdams.