It was great news that headlined the Plain Dealer recently.
“Convention center complex costing taxpayers less, officials say,” read the headline.
Hey, another downtown success story. Cheer now!
And, of course, we believe “officials” because they make it “Official.” Why else would they be called officials?
Cuyahoga County, led by executive Armond Budish and the 11-raise-seeking County Council, only spent $2.3 million in 2015 on the Global Center for Health Innovation, really the Medical Mart that never was and never will be.
But officials say that was $2 million less than they expected to pay. It only cost $2 million.
You may remember that Tim Hagan (who did such a fine job with Gateway financing) helped the old County Commission vote, with a thumb to the nose to voters, a quarter percent increase in the sales tax. To 8 percent, the highest, of course. To finance the deal. For 20 years. They seem to like that number. It’s so nice and round.
It’s expected to bring in another round number over the 20 years: $800 million.
They’re going to need it no matter what attorney Jeffery Applebaum tells the media.
Because it makes me wonder about the hotel the County is building. Why are they going into the hotel business? I guess the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland’s top business establishment front, told them they need to do it. You don’t have to guess really.
The hotel has 600 rooms. To fill it every night of the year it means 219,000 potential days of occupancy. 600 rooms, 365 days a year equals 219,000.
Now the report on the County’s Convention Center and Medical Mart (I don’t like Global Center for Health Innovations – it sounds too phony) reported to us via the cooperative Plain Dealer—that convention center/med mart in 2015 brought in 82,882 hotel customers.
We’re paying $40 million a year for that?
Let’s see: 82,882 for ALL the hotels in the city. But the County for some $250 million, plus interest, will build a hotel downtown with the potential for providing 219,000 customers a year.
82,000 to 219,000. That’s less than 35 percent of the visitors this ONE hotel would need to fill up. Now it’s fair to say that no hotel fills every room every night.
Convention sources say there are 16,000 hotel rooms available in the area. That would be for 365 days a year a need of 5.8 million visitors.
Okay, 5.8 million vs. 82,000 via our convention industry.
Let’s say that the hotel we taxpayers have built and will have to pay for gets only 70 percent occupancy. That would still be more than 150,000 guest nights or almost twice what the Convention Center and Medical Mart brought into town last year. For ONE of the 16,000 area hotel rooms!
The little heard from Armond Budish, County Executive, told the PD that he was generally pleased. It takes so little.
They saved by cutting ties with Hagan’s friends at MMPI but we all knew that was a whole phony deal.
St. Louis also built what they call a convention center hotel on the taxpayer dime. I’m told the city recently dumped it at 32 cents on a dollar. A 68 percent loss.
I may not be around but that’s where Cuyahoga County is headed.
Do you want to give those who helped make that decision a 15.5 percent raise?
Does anyone care?
Is there one honest politician left in town?
Is there a single viable community organization to pay attention?
Why do I ask such silly questions?