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Convention, event center study

Published (4/25/2008)
By Mike Cook
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Minnesota’s two largest cities compete with each other for convention business, but each also knows the benefit visitors can have on the city, region and state.

Minneapolis and St. Paul may need to further work together to study convention and event facilities and their impact on the community.

Approved April 18 on a divided voice vote by the House Finance Committee, HF4189 awaits action by the House Taxes Committee.

“These facilities are key business and tourism venues that generate opportunities for businesses that act as vendors in these facilities and are key tourism attractions keeping Minnesota on the national, and even international, radar,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls), the bill’s sponsor. “Unfortunately insufficient state support and the lack of adequate planning and development in the establishment of these facilities has created a situation where they are increasingly a burden on the local communities, both their general fund and taxpayers.

“We also need to anticipate the future needs of these event centers and convention centers and the needs to maintain them as key resources for Minnesota’s economy and place in the nation.”

The bill would require the cities to provide a report to the 2009 Legislature that at least addresses:

• sources and revenues for the past decade;

• completed capital improvements, and those proposed in the next five years;

• projected revenues for the next five years;

• current and projected impact on each city’s general fund; and

• the regional economic impact of the facilities.

The study is also to address recommendations regarding state or regional funding.

Minneapolis Finance Officer Pat Born said the cities have had discussions in recent years about working together to deal with “the financial responsibilities and stresses that we both have.”

Ann Mulholland, St. Paul deputy mayor, said the Saint Paul RiverCentre operating revenue now goes toward paying down bonds issued for construction. “Our competitors around the country are able to put operating dollars into maintenance, marketing and into growing their districts.”

A companion, SF3842, sponsored by Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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