Saturday, January 11, 2003

Cleveland mayor asks for convention plan

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Mayor Jane Campbell wants to hear from the city's business leaders by the end of the month about where a new convention center should be built.

A plan could end up before the voters in November.

Ms. Campbell on Thursday told members of two prominent business groups - Cleveland Tomorrow and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association - to recommend a downtown location.

The Plain Dealer reported Friday that three locations are under consideration: at or near the convention center on Lakeside Avenue and East Sixth Street; on the lakefront just west of Browns Stadium; and near Public Square running west into the Warehouse District.

Joe Roman, director of Cleveland Tomorrow, told Ms. Campbell that she will have a recommendation by the end of the month.

Cuyahoga County officials, meanwhile, are ready to clear the way for a tax issue on the November ballot to raise money for a new convention center, which could cost $500 million.

But how big a tax would be needed has not been determined.

County commissioners originally planned to ask voters in November to renew, or possibly increase, a countywide property tax for health and human services. They could move that vote to another election, Commissioner Jimmy Dimora said.

Ms. Campbell said she wanted business leaders to select a site because they "are the ones really passionately engaged in wanting this to happen."

Business leaders have argued for years about the need for a new building. The city now depends on the 80-year-old Convention Center.

Mr. Roman and Dennis Eckart, head of the Growth Association, told the group that Cleveland was falling behind cities such as Indianapolis, Kansas City and Pittsburgh in attracting conventions and snagging tourist dollars.

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