Just when things were starting to quiet down, Denver had to go and commission an independent report.
First, a brief catch-up on the situation: Aurora wants to build an $800 million Western-themed hotel/convention center. $300 million of which would be provided to the private company in tax incentives (including some controversial land-blight designations), but Aurora only wants to commit that kind of cash if it will result in the National Western Stock Show moving to the new arena. Meanwhile, Denver, which has a 29-year lease with the stock show to stay at their current facility, has been asked to help facilitate (read: help pay for) the Stock Show's departure.
On Monday, November 8, The Denver City Council unanimously requested Mayor Michael Hancock withdraw support from an application for state financing to help relocate the National Western Stock Show from Denver to Aurora. "It makes no sense for us to persist in this application for a project that appears to do nothing but harm to Denver," Council President Chris Nevitt told the Denver Post.
In a letter addressed to Hancock (viewable below), the councilors affirm their commitment to regional cooperation, but not at the expense of the group's "fiduciary responsibilities to Denver citizens." The letter continues:
For more than 100 years... the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) has very much been Denver's purview. This includes a long-term lease with the City -- a lease that would be voided by the current RTA proposal. The NWSS has long received favorable tax treatment and substantial subsidies from Denver taxpayers -- investments which would be rendered moot and valueless by the current RTA proposal. The NWSS also represents a significant direct and indirect contribution to our local economy and tax base, particularly at a slow time of year for our tourism industry -- revenue and activity which would be undermined by the current RTA proposal. Finally, the NWSS is an historic and much-loved Denver institution to which we and many citizens of Denver are deeply committed -- a commitment which would be severed by the current RTA proposal.
A report released Tuesday by the Hospitality Real Estate Counselors (HREC) predicts the 1,500 room Gaylord hotel in Aurora would take $186 million in visitor spending out of the Denver area over four years. The hotel would represent a 3.5% increase in lodging supply for metro Denver, but for every dollar spent there, the report estimates 34 cents will be lost by other hotels in the Denver area.
A different report by the Olinger Group, commissioned by the Gaylord hotel, counters that the hotel fills a "doughnut hole" in the Denver region's current hotel/convention center set-up. According to the study, no property in the area allows for an "under one roof" solution for larger meetings. As such, the report's authors believe the Gaylord complex would bring new business to the area rather than stealing business from elsewhere in the city.
In addition to sentimental arguments against the move (the show started in Denver 105 years ago), Denver's city leaders fear a loss of annual revenue if it leaves. How much? A report by BBC Research & Consulting projects losses of more than $31 million a year, in addition to significant tax revenue.
"We are strong supporters of regional cooperation," said Council-woman-at-large Robin Kneich to Fox31. "Typically what that means though is creating new regional activity. It doesn't mean taking activity in one community and moving it to another."
"We at the National Western cannot lose sight of one thing," countered the show's president Paul Andrews to 9News, "If our facility and site issues are not resolved, we will die a slow death and that will have a far greater impact on downtown interests than any possible move."Others, such as Robert Schwab, have a different idea. In a September HuffPost blog, Schwab views a stock show move through the lens of opportunity:
The city of Denver and Mayor Michael Hancock ought to be cutting a deal with the stock show to get a good return on letting the producers of the show out of their lease -- there's no reason not to make them pay for the privilege -- then use city bond money for redevelopment of the show's near North Denver site to create a world-class manufacturing center.
The Denver Post reports that a study on the impact Aurora's Gaylord hotel will have on downtown Denver will be released next week.
According to, the Denver Business Journal the report was commissioned by Visit Denver, the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, the Hyatt Hotel Authority and the Sheraton Denver Downtown.