Today, the Bureau of Governmental Research releases a report calling on the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to pause its 1,200-room convention headquarters hotel project to assess the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts on tourism and conventions, and to reduce the public’s nearly $800 million cost over 40 years.
Conventional Wisdom, Pausing the Convention Hotel Deal to Assess the Pandemic’s Impact and Reduce Public Costs reflects several months of BGR’s work before the pandemic to gather information about the tentative deal that the Convention Center reached with the private hotel development team in October 2019. BGR is issuing the report now in response to Convention Center officials’ indication at their March 31 board meeting that they will press forward with the hotel project, despite the ongoing public health crisis and economic uncertainty.
The report highlights the risks of moving forward with the project absent an informed analysis of the pandemic’s longer-term impacts on tourism and conventions. It also includes BGR’s pre-pandemic analysis that raises questions about the size and necessity of the proposed public contributions in the tentative deal. The report makes recommendations in keeping with BGR’s mission of promoting the effective use of public resources.