- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The city of Columbia could attract more visitors if it increased its hotel tax to pay for new athletic facilities, including an indoor fieldhouse, a field complex and an aquatic center, according to a consultants’ report.

Aquarius Sports and Entertainment of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Victus Advisors of Park City, Utah, were hired by the city to study its sports tourism market. The consultants said in a final report to the city council that the new sports services could be funded by an increase in the hotel tax to 7 percent from 4 percent, which would bring in an estimated $4 million in the current fiscal year.

Voters would have to approve any increase in the hotel tax, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Monday (https://bit.ly/1uilybh ).

The consultants also recommended the city establish a not-for-profit sports commission to work with the Convention and Visitors Advisory Board.

The field complex and indoor fieldhouse are the consultants’ top recommendations but the aquatic center should be further researched before any plans proceed, said Brian Connolly, managing principal of Victus Advisors.

An 80,000-square-foot aquatic center would cost $20 million to build, which could require public subsidies.

“We’re talking about much larger-scale investments with public money,” Connolly said.

An indoor fieldhouse of the same size would cost half as much and a field complex with 16 new fields would cost about $16.5 million, the consultants said.

Mike Kelly, general manager at Stoney Creek Inn and a member of the Convention and Visitors Advisory Board, supports using hotel tax revenue to improve the city’s sports tourism, but he said the Columbia Hospitality Association would need to determine if hoteliers would support the idea.

“The last thing we want to do is not talk to the people who need to be talked to,” Schneider said.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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