Expansion Issues

Costs & Pitfalls of expanding the convention center

This November, the city we love faces a choice.

Will we demand that our City fund what we love about Austin and are losing? Or will we stand by and let our City Council commit over $2 Billion of our hotel tax dollars to expanding the failing Convention Center?


That’s $2 Billion over the next 25-plus years—$1.37 billion in estimated public expenses according to UT’s study on the expansion, plus interest, land, construction, and operating costs—that should go to what visitors and residents both love most about Austin: live music, the arts, unique Austin businesses, parks, pools. Our culture. Our heritage. Our nature. Our soul. What we are losing through neglect and rising costs of living in Austin. 

Here are the key facts of the matter: People don’t come to Austin for the Convention Center. The Convention Center brings less than 4% of our hotel visitors, but consumes more than 72% of our hotel tax dollars. That’s over $70 million this year alone (all data from the Visit Austin Marketing Plan).

That’s $70 million per year (and growing) that could and should be supporting what we love about Austin. Yes, let’s fix up the Convention Center: it could use upgrades. But expanding it in the face of a national glut of Convention Center space with limited demand and years of operating losses is a loser’s bet.

What we do, together, today through Election Day this November 5th, will decide if we fund those people, places, and activities that make Austin special. Please join Austin Independent Business Alliance, Save Our Springs Alliance, and people across Austin by supporting our citizen petition ordinance!.

“Austin’s tourism industry has been growing so quickly not because of the Convention Center, but, because of our live music,  our beautiful natural setting,  our arts scene.” – John Riedie, City of Austin Tourism Commissioner