After seeing the parade of suits speaking on behalf of Aurora's application for the proposed 1,500-room Gaylord Entertainment complex to be part of the Regional Tourism Act program — ten speakers on April 10 supported the gargantuan project, and only one opposed it — several people who question the Gaylord deal hurried to sign up to speak at the second round of hearings. But late on April 11, they were told that the list was already closed. On Monday, I contacted the Colorado Economic Development Commission, which is considering the six RTA applications, to ask why these speakers had been shut out — and offered downtown Denver businessman Steve Weil and Andrew Hudson, former press secretary for Wellington Webb, a chance to speak their five-minute piece here. Here's an excerpt:
We would like to make it clear that we support economic development and have personally made significant investments in Colorado.
The State of Colorado has a long history of privately financed hotel projects without the benefit of taxpayer money. It is one thing to subsidize public facilities with taxpayer money, but an entirely different issue to subsidize private businesses with public money. There are many questions that the Gaylord proposal needs to address.
Gaylord Entertainmant Complex
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Is it fair to other public and private competing businesses and facilities to have an out-of-state mega-competitor receive public financing at a lower cost of doing business than all the others which contribute to the local and state tax base?
Why have proposed Gaylord projects in other states failed?
Maryland subsidized a larger Gaylord project with $150 million. Why does this project deserve a $385 million subsidy for a smaller hotel? If the current market demands that most of the project be subsidized, is this the wrong hotel model? Is this the wrong time to build a mega-hotel/convention center? Is the market overbuilt?
There's more, of course, including this: How was time suddenly found for these speakers? Late Monday, Weil was notified that he'd been given a slot between 4:41 and 4:46 p.m. at the next round of hearings, on Monday, April 23, in the Hershner Room at the Wells Fargo Center, 1700 Lincoln Street.