The business people on the McGinnis Committee were not buying, but they weren’t selling either. They were not impressed with the marketing budget and were not convinced the hockey team would stick around. The believed that the center will be built and this is likely the best way to build it. They wanted assurances in writing not just verbally that city taxpayers had no future liability. They were concerned about the county’s financing scheme imposed by the state. It would be funded by an hotel room tax of 6% in addition to the 8% already imposed by the state for tourism projects. They recommended a small increase statewide instead of .83%. Traditionally, tourism projects such as the Sussex beach replenishment are funded statewide and not locally. This has been opposed by the state hotel industry off the bat.
Other critics have called for it to be completely funded by private sources even if the county serves as a conduit for the bond. “If you can justify to a bond investor that the project is good enough to float a bond on, then do it and pay back the bond note”, said Delaware Taxpayer Coalition Leader Dave Burris. Global Spectrum, the consulting firm which manages 67 facilities across the nation, says it will pay for operations and maintenance, but will not make enough to cover debt service.
Delaware State University has announced that they will proceed with a new arena regardless of the outcome. It remains curious why they won’t come up with more money in exchange for part ownership. Nonetheless this means that taxpayers may eventually have to come up with more money than with the majority privately funded Delaware Civic Center.
It remains a controversial issue. What are your thoughts? It seems the committee appointed to give answers has given us more questions.