I was appalled when I read Dale’s recent Moon column about city councils plan for these faculties. He reported the following from the city 2021-2022 budget:
$6.9 million in hotel occupancy tax funds for maintenance and operation of the convention center.
$7.3 million from the arena special sales tax for the arena maintenance and operation.
$7.6 million revenue from the Convention center and American bank center.
$22.1 million total convention center and American bank center operating and maintenance costs.
14.6 million total taxpayer revenues for arena and convention center operating and maintenance costs.
Ok! Let’s do a financial analysis as any businessperson would do.
$7.6 million revenue -$22.1 million maintenance and operating cost=$14.5 million loss
To put it in simple terms, each arena goer gets a 66 percent discount on the ticket price and pays one-third price. Tax revenue pays the other two-thirds of the ticket price. Likewise, conventions and attendees get a 66 percent discount. They pay one-third and tax revenue pays two-thirds. Some may say, but part of that tax revenue is from the hotel occupancy tax, not resident taxes. If that tax revenue is not wasted on the convention center and arena, it could be used for other essential city services and reduce resident taxes and other user fees. In a democratic government, the majority should never be forced to pay for special services for a few.
Why is it still operating? Oh! I know! It’s all that wonderful out-of-town money it brings in. No! Dale’s column makes it very clear that statement is false!
I knew from the previous city reports the annual loss has been $2.5 million-plus for the past 20 years, I had no idea it was that bad.
Twenty plus years ago when the arena was built and the convention center expanded, I was probably the only one who read the outside consultant’s three-inch-thick report. He estimated that the arena would produce enough revenue to pay its cost and be self-sustaining by surveying the number of arena seats per resident for 10 similar size cities, Corpus Christi was below average. Therefore, the arena would be a slam dunk success. I recognized the fatal flaw in that logic.
Corpus Christi residents on average spend their discretionary entertainment funds on active recreation such as boating, fishing, water sports, and hunting. They are not performance event-goers. Oh! They will buy the tickets for High School Friday night football. They obviously don’t buy enough arena tickets and never will.
When projects fail, smart managers shut them down and stop the losses. They don’t pour new money down the same sinkhole as the city council plans to do with the Tourism Public Improvement District (TPID).
I like Dale’s proposal for the hotel operators on Padre Island, Mustang Island, and Port Aransas to organize their own TPID and separate themselves from the city council’s downtown sinkhole. The hotel operators only need the required 60 percent approval. It would also require five city council votes, which should not be too difficult. After all, Padre Island voters help elect the mayor, three at large city council members, and our own district council member. When we stick together, we have the deciding vote for those five.
Author – Kathy Coker