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Convention hotel bill sees new life in legislative session

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A bill that died last year on the last night of the legislative session, is getting new life during this session.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH)- A bill that died last year on the last night of the legislative session, is getting new life during this session.  What some are calling the "Mega Hotel Bill" unanimously passed out a house committee Tuesday.  Now, supporters are pushing forward to bring a new convention hotel to downtown Salt Lake City.  This time around supporters of the bills say they're optimistic that they've covered their bases. They worked on potential problems and holdouts and believe this is best for Salt Lake and Utah as a whole.  The Outdoor Retailer shows bring some 43,000 and $40 million into the Salt Lake economy.  But Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says there's not enough places for people to stay.

"We don't have enough hotel beds. when conventions come to town we have ppl staying as far away as ogden and guests staying at dorms at the university of utah we just don't have sufficient space," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

And not enough space for convention goers to meet.

"We need additional meeting space like a nurse practioner's conference that's coming that wants to have seminars and break out sessions and we really don't have space for something like that," said McAdams.

A bill that just passed out of committee would bring the hotel/convention center to Salt Lake.  Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis says it would be privately built and not paid by taxpayers.

"It's not like we're taking money that could go to roads, or education, or some other need and we're diverting to the hotel," said Mathis.

Last year, McAdams says the city lost 29 conventions to cities that had bigger venues and lost out on $150 million.  The new re-written bill would funnel money back to the state, not just the county.

"We're going to take some of the revenue that the new hotel would generate and we would market our convention goers to stay longer and come back with their families to visit other parts of Utah," said McAdams.

But other hotels already in downtown say this plan will hurt their bottom line.

"What they're worried about is when there's not a convention in town, will people chose the other hotel instead of their hotel and that's a reasonable concern," said Mathis.

But in the long run, Mathis and McAdams say this is a win-win for the economy of the city and the state.

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