Convention center for Carson … wishful thinking?
There’s justifiable elation in Carson City over being given the distinction of hosting the first formal forum for Democratic presidential candidates.
But there’s also plenty of frustration from people who cannot get tickets, which exposes one of our city’s glaring weaknesses – we don’t have a modern facility large enough to host a major gathering.
That’s something that become apparent quickly to the Democratic Party officials once they began looking at the space available in our city. The community center can hardly be considered a modern facility, and its limited capacity led organizers to look for an overflow site, which they found in some of the unused space in the Nevada Appeal’s building on Mallory Way. But even with the extra site, there are far more people interested in attending than there are tickets available.
The logical question then is whether Carson City should be thinking about building a convention center that would be able to handle far more people than the facilities currently available here.
This is, after all, Nevada’s historic capital city, set among the most beautiful part of the state. For that reason alone, it’s likely that many groups would consider us for smaller conventions. Probably some of those groups have already looked at us, then looked elsewhere when they found no suitable facilities. In fact, you have to wonder if the Democrats would hold a similar event here before their next caucus, in light of the difficulties they experienced this time.
The reality is that there are not enough motel rooms here now to support such a facility. When attractions like the V&T Railroad come to fruition, that could change and make a center more feasible.
The cost would be another issue. There’s little likelihood the city, already strapped for cash, could commit much in the form of public dollars. Funding methods such as motel room taxes used for facilities in other cities probably have limited potential here because we just don’t have that many rooms. There’s no question a convention center would require a great deal of private funding.
A study would have to determine if a convention center could really sustain itself here, or whether Carson City is too close to Reno and Tahoe facilities.
But those are questions worth asking and answering.
The eyes of the nation will be on our wonderful city next week. We hope they pan through our historic downtown and neighborhoods up into majestic hills and mountains – the reasons many residents are fiercely proud of living here.
Let’s hope they don’t linger too long on our aging community center.