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New Report Criticizes Sacramento Convention Center Subsidy

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Steve Large Steve Large
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A new stinging report is shining a light on the Sacramento Convention Center’s finances. The author of the report calls the convention center’s claim to millions in taxpayer dollars “bogus.”

Sacramento’s massive Convention Center complex, with its giant marquee and imposing concrete walls, is under attack.

“They’ve become complacent and that this is on automatic pilot,” said Dennis Neufeld, Eye on Sacramento Research Director. “And that this is our money guaranteed and don’t try to argue away that it’s not ours.”

The group Eye on Sacramento released a report criticizing the convention center using $16 million per year in hotel tax dollars. The report says the convention center subsidy is a river of red ink.

“Well it is not a river of red ink,” said Judy Gold, general manager of the Sacramento Convention Center.

The city council approved the funding in the 1970s as one way to structure convention center activities outside of the general fund.

“The $16 million in dedicated to T.O. tax the Eye on Sacramento is talking about is just that,” said Goldbar.

The group that published the report calls the funding bogus.

“It’s a bogus revenue category,” said Neufeld.

The report comes as the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau studies a possible expansion of the space. When we spoke with Goldbar, the convention center was empty.

“There are days that you have to close down so you can do things you can’t do when it’s full of people,” said Goldbar.

This past weekend, the convention floor was full with a SacAnime and a Greek festival.

It’s a convention center struggling for an identity like the rest of its city.

Should the convention center settle for second tier or strive for something more?

“We should find a niche. For our size, we’re a boutique convention center,” said Neufeld.

“That’s too quaint. I think we’re heading for bigger and better things,” said Goldbar.

The convention center’s first expansion was in 1996. The convention and visitors bureau is due to release their recommendation on expansion this fall.

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