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Critics upset over tax payer dollars being used for downtown hotel

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Controversy continues over plans to bring a new hotel to downtown Oklahoma City.

City leaders are considering a short list of four companies who are interested in opening a hotel next to the undetermined site of a proposed convention center.

Those companies include OMNI, Hyatt, Hilton and Weston.

Among the MAPS 3 projects, new bike trails, a downtown park and a whitewater course along the river are all well-liked options.

A new MAPS 3 convention center is not included in those sentiments of support.

"I don't like the idea of the convention center," said Garrett Bennett.

BennettĀ and others in Bricktown think the idea of using between $70 million and $120 million in public funds to build a new hotel along with the convention center is wrong.

"I don't like the idea of the public paying for the hotel," said Bennett.

"It seems a bit unfair to use public money if it's privately owned," said another Oklahoma City voter.

"I never get a question of how we gonna make this work. I get the question why are we trying so hard to make it work out," said Pete White, an Oklahoma City councilman.

Pete White has been one of the project's biggest critics on the city council.

During this week's council meeting, urban planners said they will ask the four companies looking to build the convention center hotel to keep the public investment as low as possible.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma City isn't alone.

No other city in the country has shown success building a convention center hotel without enormous public investment.

Whatever happens, the hope is still to open the convention center by 2019.

That timeline could be affected if there are more delays in selecting a site.

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