Monday, August 6, 2007

Convention Center Future Dicey

The Shreveport Convention Center’s future is burdened with being oversold as a panacea for downtown. The pitch predated former Mayor Hightower to the administration of Shreveport Mayor Bo Williams. But a 1999 citizen vote under Hightower put the basic plan into action. Hightower attached a burden to haunt taxpayers, the now-connected Hilton hotel.
For years we’ve known that Hightower’s hotel dreams are a gamble, clear and simple. That bet still sits on the craps table of our economy. But, the most recent report on the convention center puts the odds in the dealer’s favor. (We can’t have too many gambling analogies and clichés in a gambling town. Oops, I’m supposed to say gaming town.)
If Hightower is convinced the hotel will be successful and pull everything along, maybe he should buy the hotel property from the city and ease our concerns competing against so many middle-sized markets. The addition of a hotel made this downtown project a high-stakes roll of the dice. Now, we are staring at potential shortfalls. When the Bossier City Boardwalk tax revenue projections came up short, Shreveport’s palms became sweaty waiting for the dice to fall. We hope everything everyone saying just isn’t cr…
Photo: The new Shreveport Convention Center and Hilton Hotel (Douglas Collier, The Times, 2007)

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