Sacramento Convention Center Next Priority For City Tourism

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento city officials are taking on their next massive project: The Sacramento Convention Center.

It may not be as massive as of the Golden 1 Center, but officials say an upgrade to the outdated convention building is key to getting the city noticed. The Sacramento City Council is expected to look at design and planning at its Tuesday meeting.

But before they hire the architects, many are still wondering – who will pay for it?

The Sacramento Convention Center draws hundreds of events and big bucks every year.

But the man in charge of bringing those events to Sacramento says the city could be raking in a lot more money, with a more modern convention center.

“When we compete against other cities and they’re looking at our 20-year-old product versus a 2-year-old product in San Jose… it’s hard for us to compete,” said Visit Sacramento COO Testa.

What will a new and improved convention center look like? A newly released rendition gives us a clue.

Think huge exhibit halls that can host more than one event at a time, an outdoor public plaza and amphitheater, and a thoroughfare connecting the center to the river.

It’s an estimated $90 million to $125 million plan, for construction costs only.

So who will pay for it? Tourists.

Desmond Parrington is the project manager. He says the project will primarily be paid for with hotel tax revenue. But he says visitors would also benefit with a top-notch facility.

“Currently our existing convention center—about half, particularly the 1970s side—has ceilings that are too low. Doesn’t have good access to the loading docks, just a number of challenges,” said Parrington.

It’s still unclear what the massive project would cost as a whole. But a Sacramento watchdog group says it has an figure in mind, and it’s not affordable.

“This crazy project could cost the city tax payers close to a half a billion dollars—just this piece, the convention center,” said Craig Powell of Eye on Sacramento.

There’s also talk of building a hotel that would serve the convention center.

Tesla says full-service, first-class hotel rooms are key to turning the Capital City into destination city.

“Suddenly this city has a lot of things drawing people from the outside,” said Tesla.

If the city has its way, the project would break ground next year and would take two years to complete. Phase 2 would look at adding another ballroom and that much -anticipated hotel.