The annual meeting of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau kicked off with drama and class -- a few notes played on a grand piano, a few notes sung from an opera. If you're going to take in a meeting at the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, might as well not waste it. But five minutes later the sturm und drang died down, and it was back to Big Business.
This was, of course, the first DCVB meeting since the contentious convention center hotel vote and subsequent groundbreaking, and after a few words from Mark Nerenhausen, CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and Mayor Tom Leppert, Phillip Jones, the DCVB's president and CEO, thanked all present for their support.
"First of all, it was because of you that we were able to win this election to build the Dallas Convention Center hotel," Jones said. "However, there's still a big challenge left out there, and I want to leave you with that challenge this morning."
The challenge, of course, is raising money to help market the city. But Jones has in mind something that's not yet a reality, a plan that will involve the writing of new legislation.
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"In a couple of years, the bonds of the American Airlines Center will be paid off early," Jones said. "And that generates about $12 million a year for the city of Dallas. I think we can do one of two things: We can reallocate that money through legislation ... for the purposes of marketing and assisting the city with the convention center. The other opportunity is something that is being done in California. That is the creation of the Tourism Improvement District, where you would literally allow the 2 percent that is currently in place in the hotel occupancy tax to roll off and then you create a Tourism Improvement District and reallocate that 2 percent...to the Tourism Improvement District. Either way that would generate about $12 million."
And the CVB would manage the funds. "I'm going to ask each and every one of you to help us make this a reality," Jones said to much applause.
We tried to get further info from Jones. His people rushed us off. Wonder why.