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 July 1, 1999

Boulder council to weigh role in convention center study

BOULDER — As early as July 6 city council could see a proposal detailing the city’s role in and its share of a $55,000 conference/convention center feasibility study if the city chose to participate.

City Manager Ron Secrist and Stan Zemler, president and chief executive of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, were expected to meet to hammer out the details after a June 15 meeting at which council unanimously directed the city manager to work with the chamber and return with a proposal on cost and involvement.

“It will be relatively soon,” Secrist said of his report back to council.

He and Zemler spoke following the council meeting and planned to meet the following week.

Secrist said it would be a “safe bet” the item would be back to council in July or August.

Deputy Mayor Rich Lopez said the feasibility study “went over well” with council. Sales tax revenue generated by a conference/convention center “clearly (would have) a potential positive impact on the community,” he said. And it would boost the city’s hotels and motels and — perhaps most importantly — it would impact other businesses such as restaurants and retail shops.

The city has looked at a hotel with convention center as part of the redevelopment plan for Boulder Crossroads shopping mall, Lopez noted, and Crossroad’s owner, The Macerich Co., showed interest in having such a facility on the mall property.

While Macerich is not able to move forward with extensive plans at this point because it will do a scaled-down initial phase to the redevelopment, Lopez said, “it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking at this idea.

“The timing seems right to go ahead and participate, to get more information and be in a better position to see if we want to be partnering” on a conference/convention center in the future.

Zemler proposed in a June 9 letter to Secrist that the city, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the University of Colorado jointly fund a conference/convention center feasibility study. The first phase would cost about $13,500 apiece and the second phase of the study would run about $5,000 each.

“It is the view of the Boulder Chamber that Boulder’s sagging’ sales tax revenues could use a boost,” Zemler wrote in the letter on behalf of the Boulder Chamber and Visitor’s and Convention Bureau. “A conference/convention center could infuse new dollars into the Boulder economy.”

Zemler now says talk about the study “moved more quickly than CU was ready to move,” and becoming a partner in the feasibility study may not be a logical role for the university initially. That’s not to say CU would not be part of the analysis.

“They’re a big part of that,” Zemler said. “They bring people here.”

Zemler said he and Secrist would set up a meeting with university officials and the university undoubtedly would be interested once the proposal progresses farther than the feasibility study, because CU has expressed interest in an executive training center.

“They weren’t quite ready to step up and say we’re ready to be a financial partner,” Zemler said of CU’S decision to forgo involvement in the study phase. “But they’re thinking about it and talking about it.”

BOULDER — As early as July 6 city council could see a proposal detailing the city’s role in and its share of a $55,000 conference/convention center feasibility study if the city chose to participate.

City Manager Ron Secrist and Stan Zemler, president and chief executive of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, were expected to meet to hammer out the details after a June 15 meeting at which council unanimously directed the city manager to work with the chamber and return with a proposal on cost and involvement.

“It will be relatively soon,”…

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