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Saffo: proposed UNCW conference center won't compete with city's

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WILMINGTON -- Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says a proposed UNCW conference center would not compete with the city's new convention center and, in fact, could actually help draw visitors to our town. Last week when the university foundation announced plans to move forward with their project, some city officials expressed concern that it might be in contention with the city's convention center. In an interview today with Saffo he said the more venues we have to accommodate visitors, the better. The mayor is on the university's foundation board that proposed and approved the project. He said he didn't announce the plans for the center sooner because the foundation wasn't ready to move forward with the project until last week. He said the two facilities won't compete because they cater to different clientele, and the more options we have, the better. Saffo said. "This is a growing region. Not only the New Hanover County is growing, but also our region. Brunswick County is growing, Pender County is growing, two of the fastest growing counties in the state are growing. So we have more people coming here, more people wanting to put events on here. Now they may be regional in scope, they may be statewide in scope, they may be national in scope but I think that we don't have enough facilities to accommodate what we need right now." The executive director of the university foundation says the proposed facility will only be used for academic programs and that the board had consulted with city officials to make sure there were no conflicts before moving forward with the plans for the new facility. If approved the university conference center will be nearly half the size of the city's convention center and include an attached hotel. The foundation wants to build the facility across the street from UNCW on South College Road.

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Draw Visitors?

Rather optimistic. I guess that's good except for when it concerns tax dollars and tuition. I don't know about you other average Joe's out there but my tail will stay put because of the price of gas. I ain't visiting nuttin'. Draws different clientele? Who else could afford a vacation here except business folks and Northern neuvo riche! Oh yea, how could I forget, do you remember another pipe dream called the Global Transpark?

Mayor Saffo

It was right of our Mayor to respond quickly to WWAY's insightful coverage of the proposed Wilmington and UNCW conference centers. As the city Mayor and a board member at UNCW, he has explained his position. Since the proposed convention center project was such an important issue during the city elections, it would have been important for the voters to be aware of the University's similar plans. In our present economy, especially with the slow real estate market, all factors should be put on the table for the people who will ultimately be financially responsible for the center--the area taxpayer. And, after seeing what happened to New Hanover County when they lost tax revenue through tax exempt properties, I really hate to see this valuable riverfront property be taken off the tax books. It looks like this is a "contention" center after all.

He hopes...

it won't. It will be interesting to see who opens first and whether they're at or over budget.

City building "Meeting Place"

Conventions are about "networking". Business people like to meet where they can network; this means, for best results, the conventioneers would sleep, eat, and convene in the same place----and a lot can be accomplished. The city is simply building a place for companies to have their Christmas parties and stuff like that, shows and other such nonsense. UNCW is building a real convention center. Damn right, Saffo, they will not compete. Does Tiger Woods play golf with smucks?

That would be...

smucks?: Schmucks

Convention Center

I hope the taxpayer does not become the "schmoe" (that's the polite version). The convention center was not a good project for our city and our historic district, by many calculations, with a hotel. Without a hotel, it's just bad planning. Really, what is the point of a convention center with no adjoining hotel? And, is a convention the right direction for our historic district? I'm not so sure that it would be. Take some time to think. I believe that area residents have come to undervalue the history and charm of our downtown. This is a special tribute to our city, state,and country's history...a real treasure, in our hands. Let's truly appreciate it, and preserve it, and live it. Do not think that "anything" will do in our development of downtown, or that in some misguided form of desperation,we must jump on any venture that's offered. Our historic downtown is much more that that!

Convention Center

I hope the taxpayer does not become the "schmoe" (that's the polite version). The convention center was not a good project for our city and our historic district, by many calculations, with a hotel. Without a hotel, it's just bad planning. Really, what is the point of a convention center with no adjoining hotel? And, is a convention the right direction for our historic district? I'm not so sure that it would be. Take some time to think. I believe that area residents have come to undervalue the history and charm of our downtown. This is a special tribute to our city, state,and country's history...a real treasure, in our hands. Let's truly appreciate it, and preserve it, and live it. Do not think that "anything" will do in our development of downtown, or that in some misguided form of desperation,we must jump on any venture that's offered. Our historic downtown is much more that that!