Money and Business

Paso Robles hoping to build new $26 million convention center

Facility would be the first ever in SLO County

PASO ROBLES, Calif. - A "game changer" could soon be coming to Paso Robles.

On Wednesday, Mayor Steve Martin, along with Paso Robles Event Center CEO Michael Bradley and Travel Paso Executive Director Danna Stroud, announced a joint effort to build a convention center.

"This is a game changer and will dramatically provide opportunities for meetings for mid-week, meetings on weekends and other events that could take place," Bradley said.

The proposed 19,000 square foot facility would cost at least $26 million. The projected location is at an undetermined spot at the Event Center, home of the California Mid-State Fair.

Bradley noted the property already offers the project the appropriate existing infrastructure and parking.

"We're located obviously right off the 101, right at the intersection of Highway 46 and 101, so it's a perfect location and we're located within a half-mile of many hotel rooms," said Bradley.

Currently, there are 1,400 hotel rooms in Paso Robles, with the amount projected to double within the next five years.

The idea of the convention center is to help increase tourism in the area, particularly in the field of business travel.

Convention attendees would be expected to help fill those rooms during what is typically slower periods.

"We're looking for this facility to be one of those assets that we can build on to close the gap between our mid-week and weekend business and start sustaining our businesses on a year-round business," said Stroud.

Plans for the convention center come a 2017 study commissioned by VISIT SLO CAL determined there is a need for such a facility in the San Luis Obispo County.

Wednesday's announcement kicks off a partnership between the City of Paso Robles, the Paso Robles Event Center and Travel Paso, the official destination marketing organization for the city.

"Meeting planners want to come here," said Bradley. "They want to stay in Paso Robles, they want to stay in the region and more importantly, they want to come early and they want to stay late because there's so much to see and do here in Paso Robles."

Martin believes the center will provide the city a huge financial boost.

"The more visitors we have, the more sales tax we collect," Martin said. "The more visitors we have, the more hotel rooms we fill, all of that money goes into the general fund, will allows the city to provide city services and write down those that might otherwise fall to local citizens."

Stroud say the center is expected to bring in at least $7 million in tax revenue annually.

In addition, Martin thinks the center will not just attract business travelers in town for a short stay, it would also help create long term business possibilities. 

"We will be able to attract business tourists who will come here for the meetings and look around and say this is a great place for business to expand, relocate or maybe start a new business," said Martin

The proposed facility would be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people and include a 15,000 square foot ballroom, six meeting rooms, one board room and one pre-function space.

Now with the project announced, the partners will conduct a feasibility study of their own to confirm the need for it.

A major hurdle will be financing. Right now, there is no definitive plan on how the facility would be paid for. 

Organizers said the financial terms will be determined later. Various revenue paths will be explored with collaboration from a financial adviser.

Even though the price tag is substantial, the partnership is confident the convention center will be built.

"It would be a showcase for this great city of Paso Robles and the region that we represent," said Bradley. "We're moving the needle significantly for this great city, we're moving the needle for the region the future is going to be very, very bright.

If everything comes together as hoped for, Paso Robles hopes to open the new convention center in 2021.

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