City leaders discuss possibility of new convention center - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City leaders discuss possibility of new convention center

Posted: Updated:
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - An old question is surfacing again downtown: Should Memphis build a new convention center with a large hotel? Some city leaders say without a new convention center, Memphis will not be able to compete with other cities like Nashville and St. Louis.

Conventions are considered a $2 billion industry. Tens of millions of tourist dollars are at stake each year, but can the Bluff City afford such a large scale project? And if so, how?

Kevin Kane, head of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, addressed Memphis City Council, saying without a new convention center and hotel, Memphis' convention dollars will dry up.

"We are one of America's top cities for tourism, but if we don't take the steps to make that happen, then we're just making statements without making any backbone or back up to it," said Memphis City Councilman Harold Collins, who is pushing for a committee to study the idea.

Other council members and some taxpayers say they do not see how Memphis could possibly afford to build a new convention center.

"Just in general, I think we need to get our finances in order," said Joe Saino, Memphis taxpayer watchdog.

Saino says the city needs to reform the retirement system and address its debt before it can take on a project like this, but he is open to a studying the idea.

"Would have to be studied by an independent body that we can believe with the projections of how it's going to be paid for," he added.

Councilman Collins insists the dialogue needs to happen now.

"Let's talk about it," said Collins. "Let's have a discussion. Let's figure out what we can do after we do that. Let's make an informed decision on what we can do with the information we have."

Collins is looking at the first meeting next month to bring up this issue again. He would like to assign a committee to study a new convention center and hotel, where it would go, and how the city could pay for it.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Locked and Loaded: Police find gun in woman's vagina

    Locked and Loaded: Police find gun in woman's vagina

    Dallas Archer, 19, was arrested Monday in Kingsport for driving on a suspended license. When officers searched Archer before booking her into jail, they made the discovery.More >>
    Dallas Archer, 19, was arrested Monday in Kingsport for driving on a suspended license. When officers searched Archer before booking her into jail, they made the discovery.More >>
  • breaking

    Amber Alert suspects arrested, toddler found safe

    Amber Alert suspects arrested, toddler found safe

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:49 AM EDT2014-04-24 13:49:46 GMT
    According to WTVA, an Amber Alert has been issued for a missing Lowndes County toddler. Lowndes County Chief Deputy Marc Miley says they are searching for 2-year-old Malia Harris of Columbus. OfficialsMore >>
    Georgia officials believe suspects in the Mississippi Amber Alert case may be in southwest Georgia. Cook County, GA investigators have been actively searching the Lenox area for the suspects. Officials confirmed a heavy presence of law enforcement in that area Wednesday night.More >>
  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:42:32 GMT
    Thomas Allen WinstonThomas Allen Winston
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.More >>
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.More >>
Powered by WorldNow