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Monday, March 31, 2008

WTF? Why are we building a convention center when we already have two?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 3:43 PM

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Councilman Mike Polensek seems to be the only one asking the obvious question: What are we gonna do with the convention centers we already have?
In their ongoing quest to blowtorch your wallet, then stomp it to death while doing Cherokee war cries, Cuyahoga County commissioners may have fashioned their worst deal yet to build a new convention center/medical mart in Cleveland. In an ongoing series, Ace Reporter Lisa Rab breaks down the absurdity of the deal for those of you scoring at home: Councilman Mike Polensek is feeling a bit miffed these days. He has this crazy notion that since the new convention center is going to be built in Cleveland, the city should have some say in the deal. This is especially important, he notes in a recent letter to Council President Martin Sweeney, because, um… the city already has a convention center… Yes, it’s true. That Roman temple building on Lakeside Avenue is owned and operated by the city, and it’s designed to host convention-type stuff, although it does precious little business these days. The question: If county commissioners decide to build the new one r behind Tower City, what’s going to happen to this 80-something-year-old albatross? Polensek points out that bed taxes collected from downtown hotels are now used to cover operating expenses and maintenance there. If those taxes go to the new center, the city’s left footing the bill for either demolishing or converting the old one to a different use. Plus, there’s the small matter of the I-X Center, which, technically, is also a convention center. The city paid $66.5 million for it in 1999, with the intention of tearing it down to build a new runway at Hopkins. But that never happened, and the huge expo center is still up and running — rent free — for the foreseeable future. Besides, Polensek isn’t about to trust a new convention center to Super-Lawyer Fred Nance and the county commissioners, who have a gift for flushing away millions on development deals. “Council must, and I repeat, must be engaged in the negotiating process,” Polensek wrote with trademark outrage. “If we only step back for a moment and look at the bad decisions that have been made in the past pertaining to Gateway and Brown’s Stadium, these should be enough to force our engagement.” We hear ya, councilman. Just not sure if anyone else is listening. – Lisa Rab Previously on Medical Mart Watch

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