Superdome, arenas get record-setting boost from hotel taxes: audit

By Kevin Litten

Source: | The Times-Picayune

December 17, 2018

The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the state entity with oversight of Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Center, raked in an additional $2.6 million in hotel taxes in 2017, pushing its revenue from tourist-related taxes to a record high, according to a Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report released Monday (Dec. 17).

The audit notes strong and growing hotel tax revenue, which increased to $52 million last year, “reduced the district’s dependency on the state’s general fund appropriations to meet the contractual obligations of the district. In addition to the two high-profile arenas, the district also includes Champions Square, the John Alario Event Center in Westwego and the minor league baseball stadium on Airline Highway in Metairie.

The district’s revenue picture is gaining renewed attention as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell leads a push to redirect locally generated state taxes into city coffers. The stadium district and the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority receive a sizable chunk of local taxes assessed in the New Orleans.

In 2015, Bureau of Government Research found those two entities receive nearly 11 percent of all local taxes, totaling more than $110 million that year. Specific to hotel taxes, the BGR report pointed out that the stadium district took in 32.2 percent three years ago and the Convention Center got 26.9 percent, compared with 11.1 percent for the city.

Cantrell has argued the city should receive a bigger share in order to fund its pressing infrastructure needs.

Getting the legislature to agree to redirect taxes could be difficult for the mayor. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senate President John Alario have already panned the idea. New Orleans business and tourism industry leaders have begun touting their own plan to raise taxes to generate more money for infrastructure, an idea the mayor has said is insufficient for the city’s needs.

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