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Hotels support competition from incoming Omni

OKLAHOMA CITY - In a debate over a planned 600-room hotel, competitors are cautiously optimistic about what it means for their fortunes.

"As a hotelier in general, it's not often that I would stand here on behalf of more hotel rooms in the market," Colcord Hotel General Manager Blaine Thompson told the city council. "But, a project like this is a little bit different. Most hotels don't generate demand."

The council approved the $235 million contract at Tuesday's meeting, clearing the way for Omni to plan and construct a hotel designed to complement an incoming convention center.

The new complex is designed to replace the Cox Convention Center and hold larger events.

Consultants estimated a larger facility could bring in an extra 25 conventions and events a year.

"When those are here, they can make your month," Thompson said. "We benefit greatly from the activity around the convention center: the room nights, the food and beverage opportunities, and revenues that come with that."

The Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association expressed cautious support for the new Omni hotel, saying the city got a favorable deal.

"The old line that a rising tide lifts all boats [applies]," said Michael Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The Omni's full business is going to begin to compress out from that into the other surrounding hotels."

Though the Omni could be the largest hotel in the state, Carrier said, many incoming conventions will be larger, pushing guests to nearby hotels.

"The new center is going to allow us to... attract groups we've never been able to even talk to before because of size constraints, because a lack of a headquarters hotel and the size that it needs to be, the availability of room blocks," Carrier said. "This opens a lot of new doors for us. We're excited."

The council approved the hotel by a 7-2 vote. Opponents questioned the necessity of the hotel and whether voters should have input.

The city is contributing $135 million of public money, including interest, to the project.