Letter from the Chair

I have lost sleep over the lack of knowledge and the extreme politics that some of our candidates are using to try to convince you, our citizens and voters, that our convention center deal is bad. I keep hearing that it’s a bad deal for our city, it will be another Marlin’s stadium and the traffic is going to get much worse. Anyone who tells you this truly doesn’t understand reality and is creating false information in the hopes of getting elected. Let me share with you the facts.

The convention center is a critical element to the economic future of our great city. Studies were done and major conventioneers were polled. The results were simple and consistent. We must renovate and upgrade the convention center facility to modern day standards, we must have more meeting space, we must have a ballroom and we must have an adjoining convention center hotel. We must have all of this to be competitive to attract the conventions that bring people from outside Miami and outside Florida, who will stay and play in our city. These are people who come from all over the world, take a taxi to Miami Beach, stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants, shop in our retail stores and contribute greatly to our tourist tax thereby keeping our property taxes from having to increase.

The current proposal that has been negotiated with Tishman ACE has absolutely no similarities whatsoever to the Marlins stadium. Hundreds of millions of public dollars went to the benefit of the owner of the Marlins that will end up in his pocket and that is why the Marlins stadium was a bad deal for the taxpayers. The convention center is owned by the city, will continue to be owned by the city and the only public money that will go into the project is for the renovation of the convention center itself. And this will be heavily funded by the increase in the tourist tax that our visitors pay when they stay in our hotels. There will be no property tax increases to the residents to pay for any part of the convention center. In fact, I would anticipate the possibility of further reductions to our property taxes as a direct result. The hotel on the other hand will be 100% funded by the Tishman team and they will pay rent to the city for the use of the air rights above the convention center. There is no public money going to the benefit of the developer and this deal clearly has no similarity to the Marlin’s deal. Let me repeat, there are no taxpayer dollars being used to build the hotel over the convention center. And this is the only convention center hotel that I know of that is not being subsidized by the city. Instead Tishman will pay rent to the city. Most convention centers provide a subsidy to the hotel owner/operator to keep them in business. The fact is that the convention center hotel is necessary, it will be funded completely by Tishman, and they will not only not be subsidized, but will pay rent to the city providing additional income to be used for public benefits to our local residents.

And let’s talk about traffic. Today’s dilapidated convention center primarily attracts trade shows that attract the local day-tripper crowd. How do these local people get here? They drive. Lots and lots of cars coming in and out on a daily basis. Even worse, these day-trippers don’t stay in our hotels and don’t contribute to our tourist tax. With the current plan in place that has already been voted on by our commission, our city will attract the high end conventions that will fly into Miami, stay here and contribute to our tourist tax allowing us to continue and enhance our incredible quality of life as we know it today. It’s time to all work together to get our convention center district built and achieve our common goal of insuring the future of our great city.

At your service,

Alan A. Lips

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