Dallas Approves Plan to Fund Convention Center Overhaul

The specifics and the scale of the project have yet to be finalized, but the goal will be to increase capacity at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

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Members of the Dallas City Council approved a funding method on Wednesday that would pay for an overhaul, or perhaps a replacement, to the city’s convention center.

The project would be paid for with hotel occupancy tax dollars that would typically go to the state, and work must begin within five years, according to the plan voted on by Dallas City Council.

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is a major driver of revenue for the city. Prior to the pandemic, it hosted about 100 events a year and drew approximately 800,000 people, according to figures provided by the city. The goal of any project will be to increase the convention center’s capacity and its ability to book more and larger events.

The specifics of what could be done – a renovation, an expansion, a replacement – have not been finalized. A vote on that is not expected until early 2022.

The hotel occupancy tax for the City of Dallas is 13%. Currently, the city keeps 7% of that money, and 6% goes to the state.

To fund this project, the city would get to keep all of the money. But if work on the convention center project does not begin within five years from now, the city would owe the state all of the hotel tax money it withheld in the interim.

The convention center project is part of a larger redevelopment plan that aims to energize that area of Downtown Dallas by generating more foot traffic and events.

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