Regional Tourism Act: What happened to sports-prehistoric park, other rejected projects?

The city of Glendale was one of four applicants whose tourism projects were not chosen last year to receive state sales-tax rebates under the Regional Tourism Act. But as explained in this week's cover story, "Fantasy Island," Glendale don't give a shit; the city known for its iconic strip club is going forward anyway with plans to build a riverwalk along Cherry Creek.

But what happened to the three other projects that weren't chosen to receive RTA funding? Our research indicates that they aren't faring so well.

The RTA allows local governments to apply to the Colorado Economic Development Commission to create a special district for a particular tourism project. Once it is built, a percentage of the state sales-tax revenue generated by the new tourism attraction is rebated to the district to help pay for the project.

In all, six entities applied last year: Glendale for the riverwalk; Aurora for the Gaylord hotel and convention center; Pueblo, which wanted to enhance its own riverwalk, expand its convention center and build a professional bull-riding academy, among other projects; Estes Park, which wanted to redevelop the historic Elkhorn Lodge and more; Douglas County, which wanted to build a sports park and prehistoric museum; and Montrose County, which was planning a host of small projects.

The RTA specifies that the Economic Development Commission can approve two projects a year for three years. After a failed attempt by Glendale and others to change the law to allow all six projects to be approved last year, the commission chose just two: Pueblo's riverwalk expansion and bull-riding academy and Aurora's massive hotel and convention center, which is now mired in controversy. More than twenty Colorado hotels are petitioning the commission to revoke the project's approval, saying that the finances and players have changed so much that the whole thing needs to be reconsidered.

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