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Hays convention center plans advance

White

White

By KARI BLURTON
Hays Post

Plans to build a new convention center in Hays are progressing.

Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, said the coalition met with local bankers Thursday for help in putting up the funds for the project.

The coalition is also working toward applying for a Community Improvement District application, which means businesses and restaurants surrounding the proposed convention center will need to agree to apply an additional sales tax to their services.

The CID revenue would be used to pay off the bonds sold to banks to generate the capital to build the facility, proposed to be constructed on vacant land just south of Holiday Inn Express.

White said the most current cost estimate of the facility is $8 million, although that figure is tentative. The CID sales tax increase, which would need to be approved by the Hays City Commission, would be less than 1 percent, he added.

White said most businesses in the proposed CID he has talked to are in favor of the convention center, because it will generate revenue for the community and fills a gap in Hays. White said many conventions bypass Hays because there is not an adequate space to hold up to 480 people that also includes the breakout rooms needed for conventions.

The coalition has been working on a convention center since the city publicly solicited bids from potential developers a few years ago and received no interest. The city had received complaints from patrons about the existing convention center, formerly a Ramada and now Hays Ambassador Hotel.

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  • Reaper

    Just what is wrong with the Convention Center that we have now, and exactly what in the heck is it used for anyway??? Totally ridiculous! Why doesn’t this town build something the people can use instead of this worthless spending of our tax dollars for things we do not need nor want. Let’s raise the taxes some more!. SMH

    • Question

      We currently have a convention center?

      • quick ed

        Fhsu union.

    • bosco

      don’t think the article states any use of taxpayer money in this. but we’ve heard this before. but like the FAST building project you get the project started with your community gunners then they fail to keep their word and make the taxpayers finish footing the bill. oldest trick in the book. but some how or other the taxpayers will probably get sucked into this deal.

      • Chief69

        Yes, on taxes….it would be paid for by a special sales tax district, so it would be paid by our increased sales tax being charged by businesses in that part of town.
        Every time you buy milk at WalMart, you would be paying extra sales tax to pay for this.

        • Chief59

          You pay extra sales tax at Home Depot, IHOP, etcetera for that addition to our city, and it doesn’t bring the potential revenue a convention center would.

          • Joe

            A convention center will bring in revenue, but not enough to pay the bills. If you need an example take a look at the fox pavilion, there is a reason it’s for sale.

          • Chief59

            The revenue I was speaking of was extra revenue for the businesses of Hays. Conventions bring more people to town, and those people use or services. The Fox overpriced themselves out of business. $1400 just for the use of the building, and that was only for $150 guests. Price went up from there, and did not include food or drink.

          • Joe

            I understand the hopeful economic impact for area businesses. But that will not happen on the scale which they will use to try and sell the idea. In order to have a real economic impact you need to bring in people and book events/conventions for businesses and other people from outside of Hays. You need them to bring outside money in and inject it into our economy. Hays is not a destination city and you won’t have Wall St. Execs and Govt. Entities lining up for destination retreats.

          • Chief59

            I don’t disagree on any of these points. As I already said, I was just pointing out that Hays already uses special sales tax in certain parts of the city.

          • Big Chief

            Special sales tax disreicr built Home Depot….I use it..then I help pay for it. Let users of convention center pay for it with fees and bed tax.

          • Chief59

            I have no problem with a bed tax. In fact, that’s probably the way it should be paid for. I just wanted to state that using sales tax for things like that is nothing new for Hays.

          • manny54

            My question is who is going to run it? How much are we planning on paying to staff it? Who is going to go out and recruit these “conventions” to Hays?

          • johnson

            good point.

  • Chief69

    This is a great idea…..to be funded by a BED TAX, NOT ANOTHER SALES TAX INCREASE. Notice to businesses who agree to be part of the new sales fleecing district, you will NOT have my business, including Walmart, Applebees, Carols O’s, JD, etc! The hotels here seem to have huge political power to resist increasing bed taxes. If the point is to collect on out of town tax payers money….let them pay a user fee for the facility and a bed tax if they stay over night OR put in a CASINO for the real dollars to come here off of i-70.
    Enough is on THE backs of the low income Ellis County taxpayers already, using the most regressive tax, sales tax. Let’s be progressive.
    Frankly if this is such a great deal, why aren’t private investors flocking to this?
    Just hear there is a lot of fluff in the USD489 bond proposal. Bring it on….but Fat Chance the Fat Projects will get voter approval. The County sales tax was enough!

    • BobOil

      Interesting point about the bed tax… stay in any hotel in St. Louis, Atlanta, Nashville or just about any large city and you’ll see a “convention center” or “stadium” tax on your bill. It’s not much, usually 1% or so, but it shifts some of the cost off the backs of Ellis Co. taxpayers. And you’re spot on, the sales tax is already high here, and real estate property taxes are VERY high compared to nearby states (and even other cities in Kansas).

      • chester

        you think property tax is high now?? just wait my friends. When the school board gets done with you on their upcoming mega million bond issue next year you’ll get a quick education on how high property tax is gonna go. You’ll need the mega million lottery just to pay the bond off. And note the board and bond committee is always talking about fixing up our dilapidated school buildings but in fact its not repair to the old buildings but additions to all these old buildings. Convention Center and school bond? its gonna happen!

    • Can’t Vote

      I agree with all you said, but it only needs the vote of our Fabulous Five Commissioners.

      • pen

        yes, that’s true. it’ll happen then.

  • Guests

    Another thing Hays doesn’t need. Which big city has a convention center that Hays thinks they have to have. We have an expensive convention center at 27 & Vine lets use it.

    • ugh

      The building at the corner of 27th and Vine is called the Hays WELCOME center. It houses several business and city departments, such as the Convention & Visitors Bureau…this does NOT mean its a convention center. If you have ever been inside the building, you would see that it is used very often. It does have a large conference/meeting room, but will only hold several dozen people, not even close to 100.

      Yes, Hays needs an actual Convention center as we continue to lose out on large events that could be hosted at large events. I know that FHSU is used often to host events and that does fill a portion of the need.

  • gomer

    so is this going to draw conventions like the sports complex draws in tournaments………yeah that’s what I thought

    • cimmarron

      ha..ha. great point. remember when the pool committee was yackin about all the people from surrounding communities bolting their way to hays to swim at our new pool!!! sports complex same thing. the disneyland of western kansas!!

  • Joe

    1) Until Hays solves their water issue, projects such as this should not even be on the table. Without water all these big city ideas are for not. Our town will never attract new businesses and grow. It’s been known for a very long time that water is our number one issue and they have yet to solve the problem. 2) If a business venture such as a convention center is a sound investment let private money or the business owners who are pushing for this thing support it themselves. They won’t, it’s guaranteed to operate at a loss just like the pool and sports complex. They want the city to build it that way the taxpayers will pay for the losses year in and year out just like on everything else. Its another burden we the taxpayers don’t need.

  • passin_threw

    if a convention center would be such a lucrative building why hasn’t any of the wealthy entrepeneur’s built one and taken advantage of the booming business?

  • observer

    The buildings out at the fairgrounds see a massive amount of use…. why? They are affordable and you have the flexibility on your food options. I see this proposed center as another taxpayer money pit.

  • manny54

    please check into the proposed design of this building. Many people do not know that there are no facilities to prepare meals in the design of this place. Also, as I have experience working with conventions, etc. are the owners of this building planning on securing a liquor license as most of these conventions look to have a large function at the end of their day complete with alcoholic beverages. Please make sure that whoever is behind this is well aware of all it takes to put on a large function like they are talking about. My other concern is what do we do with the building when there are no conventions planned, let it sit empty and wait for vandals to trash it!!!!

  • guest speller

    Why do they avoid talking to the groups from Hays that take their meetings to other cities??? Do they know what their needs are?? Do they care? Who is going to handle feeding? Please answer!!!!!

  • toby

    I guess the more money this idiot spends makes him look better to the city. I pay enough dam taxes