MAPS 3 convention center hotel draws debate

MAPS3 hotel convention center

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s the largest and most controversial of all the MAPS3 projects.

Tuesday city leaders unveiled three potential concept plans for the $250 million downtown convention center.

The renderings are very early; they’re far from the final designs.

The goal right now is simply to decide how to position the convention center on site and just as important, where to build an adjoining hotel.

That hotel is proving to be a very contentious idea.

The newly unveiled concepts agree on several basic ideas including below-ground exhibit halls, an elevated ballroom and primary access off Robinson

It’s the new hotel that’s setting off alarms for one city councilman.

“The problem is the taxpayers have a $100-million tsunami coming at them and we have no idea how to pay for a convention center hotel,” councilman Ed Shadid said.

One plan includes putting a new convention center hotel on the north side of the new convention center next to the Myriad Gardens, another puts the hotel on the south side of the lot along the future downtown boulevard.

A third option would move the hotel across the street where the Cox Convention Center currently sits.

Wherever it goes, councilman Ed Shadid said the $50 to $100 million hotel will almost certainly need to be subsidized by taxpayers, but not using MAPS3 money.

“There’s been no convention center hotel anywhere in America in the last 10 years that didn’t require massive tax payer subsidies,” he said. “That’s a discussion we haven’t had and we need to urgently.”

The next step is for the city to come out with a market analysis that will nail down how much a new hotel would cost.

As for the actual convention center itself, the city council will have the final say on how the building is positioned.