Tourism industry: Don't take from Convention Center to fund - | WBTV Charlotte

Tourism industry: Don't take from Convention Center to fund BofA stadium upgrades


Charlotte City leaders say the next step in the bid to renovate Bank of America Stadium is out of their hands.

"Right now the decision has to be made in Raleigh" says Charlotte City Council Member Michael Barnes.

In a proposal announced early February,  the plan to upgrade the stadium calls for the state, the city and the Carolina Panthers to contribute to the 300 million dollar renovations.

But Governor Pat McCrory recently stated there won't be any state money in the project. And lawmakers, reluctant to raise taxes, refuse to give Charlotte permission to increase the prepared foods tax to generate revenue for the city's portion of the money.

So what now for the renovations? Is the proposal dead?

"I think before everything is scrapped, we would look at scaling down the improvements" says Council member Barnes. "But there is a bigger issue and that is - I think the Panthers thought there was an understanding in Raleigh. We thought there was an understanding and now Raleigh has said no - there's no help here."

Legislators last week filed a bill to allow Charlotte to use money from the existing prepared foods tax and put it toward stadium renovations.

But city officials say the revenue from the tax is currently used for the Convention Center.

In a letter to lawmakers, a group of leaders in the tourism industry - including the Executive Director of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority - says the "bill directly and negatively impacts one of the city's leading sources of tourism for the region, the Charlotte Convention Center."

The letter is asking legislators to "reconsider alternatives" because the Convention Center is 17 years old and "requires maintenance and improvements to preserve the building and safeguard its competitiveness in the convention sales marketplace."

WBTV has obtained a presentation that addresses future capital considerations for the Convention Center. Officials with the Convention Center say a sampling of projects include renovations to the movable wall, and the restrooms. They want to improve exhibit hall lighting, interior doors, and do repairs to the exterior courtyard fountain.

In that letter to lawmakers, tourism officials say the Convention Center fund was "established to address long term needs and aid and encourage convention and visitor promotion. While we support the Carolina Panthers, our primary concern is to preserve the city's investment in the Charlotte Convention Center."

They say the proposed plan does not make it "financially possible to fund stadium upgrades, amateur sports and convention center needs."

 They want lawmakers to come up with an alternative plan.

WBTV contacted the Carolina Panthers to see what's the next step for the organization. A spokesperson would only say the proposal is in "the process."

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