ONLY ON 3: City says taxpayers don’t need to worry about Convention Center costs

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Submitted: Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:26pm
Updated: Thu, 05/24/2012 - 11:27pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With the City of Wilmington talking next year’s budget, we wanted to find out how much it would cost to run the Convention Center and where the money would come from.

“All of the money to fund the Convention Center comes from one of two sources: revenue generated by the center or room occupancy tax monies, which has nothing to do with property tax money whatsoever,” city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

The Convention Center and its funding needs have worried taxpayers in the past, but the city says you have no need to fear. It estimates the total operating cost of the Convention Center to be around $7.3 million. That money is expected to come from more than $5 million of room occupancy tax, $15,000 of parking deck revenue, nearly $600,000 of event income and $1.5 million in concessions and catering.

The event income number increased over this year, because the city says the center is now more established. It expects that number to go up even more when a hotel arrives next door.

Despite all of that, the city says the Convention Center itself is not expected to be the real bread maker.

“What it’s designed to do, and what it is doing, is putting money into the coffers of the businesses of our community,” Talbert said. “That’s why it’s a public building: so it can benefit everyone in the community, not make money for the city per se.”

It cost around $7.6 million to run the Convention Center this year. The city says most of that was covered by an increased amount of room occupancy tax. The city has been saving up that tax since 2003.


  • taxpayer says:

    Would you care to cite verifiable statistics to back up your statement? Verifiable based upon other cities of similar size and demographics where baseball had an impact and at what cost to the taxpayers?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    The people came from within fifty miles and drove home after the game.

    No one travels any great distance to see a farm team play.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    … about adding insult to injury.

    What everyone really knows is that this white elephant is chomping through its fodder of ROC at an unsustainable rate. Sooner, rather than later it’ll have to feed from other sources. That’s the injury.

    The real tragedy though is that city leaders are still comfortable looking taxpayers right in the eye and knowingly not tell them the truth. Knowingly spin out to them some candied-up version of what’s really going on. That’s the insult.

    Wilmingtonian’s are already stuck with one white elephant and if they’re not careful, possibly two. What they’re not stuck with though are the city leaders and their cronies who’ve been sticking it to them. What they do about that is the one thing that is totally within their control.

  • 1981duke says:

    People will visit games from ex town and will need a place to sleep and eat,possibly convene.
    I have been to many conferences and all I can remeber had Convention Centers along with 1-2-3 professional sport draws.
    When you have all the factors working together the benefits in revenues far outweigh the costs of building.
    A gigantic economic kick-start.
    Do we not need this?

  • Guest1986 says:

    Instead of building a convention center, the city council should have used the money to fix the DARN ROADS!!!! I’ll bet we would have enough money to construct an interchange at College and Oleander and widen and extend Independence Blvd north to MLK,

  • 1981duke says:

    Have been to a Bulls,Pelicans,Indians up and back same day.
    People drive if something they want to see.same will happen here especially on weekends.

  • 1981duke says:

    When Baseball Team comes here both convention center bookings and hotel and lodging bookings will explode.
    All working together has massive revenue impact.

  • Guest7969 says:

    DID get the memo that this was a SINGLE A team…I’m not driving THREE miles to watch ‘em!

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    The Room Occupancy Tax Rate is 6% countywide, but only Wilmington contributes any of it to the convention center. The “Wilmington Convention Center District” – everything between the two bridges and from the river to 4th Street – has 100% of their room tax going to the convention center. For the rest of the City of Wilmington, 3% of the room tax collected goes to the convention center.

    You can find the numbers here:


    room occupancy tax how much is going for what it was intended for promoting tourism in the area.does anyone no the percentage of the room occupancy tax used for the Convention Center.And on the offer hand are they using regular tax money for tourism because most of the room occupancy tax is going to the Convention Center.Or is the just another way of covering things over so the tax payer thinks he is not getting s—–d.

  • Guester says:

    That convention center is not making money nor will it. Why would anyone want to book a convention in Wilmington? Because it’s on the Cape Fear River lined with fuel tanks, a State Port, a view of the smoke stacks of Sutton Steam Plant, WW II Battleship, chemical plants up river, miles from the ocean at Wrightsville and Carolina beaches, Historic Downtown with a few overpriced shops, restaurants and bars with a drunken college crowd that take over after the sun goes down?

    Myrtle Beach is only an hour or so away with a convention center closer to the ocean, House of Blues, on the waterway…and it is even losing money.

  • Joshua Fulton says:

    The City is deliberately misleading you about the room occupancy tax revenue.

    Let’s take a look through the city’s last year CAFR:

    Pg. 156 shows that the room occupancy tax generated less than $2.1M last year.

    So, how can it legitimately jump from $2.1M to over $5M in a year? Because the City of Wilmington is deliberately trying to mislead everyone.

    They use the term ‘room occupancy tax’ to refer to what should actually be called the ‘room occupancy tax fund.’ ‘Room occupancy tax’ is misleading because it would have you believe that all of the revenue is generated in a single year.

    In reality, what they’re doing is going into a savings fund. Before the convention center ever opened the city collected about $14M in ROT funds. They kept it in a fund dedicated for the convention center.

    Because annual ROT revenues are NOT enough to meet the operating and debt service costs of the convention center, the city has to dip into that fund a little bit each year.

    Two years ago it was $14M. Last year it was about $11M. See a trend? I’m guessing this year the total balance will be about $9M.

    Don’t let them fool you. When they say room occupancy tax will pay for it, what they’re actually referring to is savings from the room occupancy tax FUND! The annual revenues are NOT enough to meet the costs.

  • taxpayer says:

    the ROT fund will be out of money in about 4 years…or slightly less.

    Liars figure and figures lie.

  • 1981duke says:

    Google up Dayton Dragons,answer YES!

  • Guester says:

    What crystal ball are you looking in? “upscale”, “bridge to bridge” ROFLMAO. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. You want a baseball stadium to go along with a new convention center that’s losing money now with alot of people unemployed or under employed. I want a new car but I have to live within a budget and can’t aford it right now.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    You need professional therapy if you’re sincerely banking on a farm league baseball stadium prompting some massive downtown redevelopment “from bridge to bridge.”

  • 1981duke says:

    When Baseball Stadium built and river filled bridge to bridge on the river with Long Term tennants the “face” of Wilmington as we know it is going upscale and this will make whole city,”ramp-up”.
    No poor building,limited riff-raff.

  • Guest2020 says:

    The sad thing is that Wilmington officials knew that Myrtle Beach’s convention center was losing money, but the went ahead with Wilmington’s convention center anyway. They didn’t care about the taxpayers then and they don’t care about them now. The citizens of Wilmington are doomed. They need to wise up and quit re-electing these idiots.

  • Guest 10101 says:

    Did you make that up yourself or did you have help?

    P.S. Hey WWAY: Keep digging.

  • Guestconvention says:

    Around 7.3 million to run this thing per year? for what? High salaries? Since when did parking deck money start going to the convention center? I though that was used to pay off construction of those decks. They are quickly burning through what they saved since 2003 on room occupancy taxes, when that runs dry and we get hit by a hurricane, what then? Benefits everyone my a$$!

  • Wade Griffis says:

    about costs. They are certainly not worried about costs. Why? Because they can always figure out a way to get us to pay.

  • taxpayer says:

    when looking at the proposed budget, there was a line item in the General Fund portion that had around $5 Million budgeted for the Convention Center.

  • John says:

    I am leading a petition to rename the City of Wilmington to the City of Dumbascus. Why do you think that Mandalay is here? We have already demonstrated that we are willing to abuse taxpayers with guaranteed money losing propositions. Baseball is a loser. No debate there.
    Why would our Dumbascus Debacles baseball team be any different. The average butts in seats do not work for the proposal. Period. Just like the convention center. The convention center numbers were stark in all categories with negative trends.

  • guest1 says:

    so it cost 7.3 million to run and generated 2.1 in revenue? thank you bill safo

  • frontpaige says:

    First, the $7.6 million a year that it costs to run the city convention center is tax money that the city could be spending on other expenditures. It comes directly out of the local tax coffers, not the convention center venture itself, or the sky.

    Do we need another venture, and an even larger one, like the city baseball stadium on the taxpayer backs as well?

  • Carol Kramer says:

    What about debt service costs? How was this financed?

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