Herenton addresses "wild speculation" about possible convention center - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Herenton addresses "wild speculation" about possible convention center

Mayor Herenton at Thursday's press conference. Mayor Herenton at Thursday's press conference.

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Willie Herenton said he wanted to put an end to "wild speculation and premature conclusions" about the possibility of a new convention center in Memphis.

"No decisions have been made on whether we will build a new convention center or expand the existing convention center," Herenton said.

The Cook Convention Center, Memphis' current facility, was expanded in 2002 at he expense of $100,000,000.  Thursday, Herenton said the payoff from that expense already nears $200,000,000.

Still, amid talk of looking to the future, a group appointed by the mayor earlier this year to study how to boost Memphis' tourism industry is planning to hire consultants to consider the possibility new convention center, which could cost up to $600 million. 

"We have to be constantly analyzing exactly how we are positioned so we can be a player in this industry," Kevin Kane of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

Addressing critics, Herenton said the committee's findings are not preordained.

"I have no idea what this committee is going to identify and recommend," Herenton said.

The mayor also stressed that Memphians would not foot the bill for any new facility.

"Any economic development project of this magnitude would not involve local tax dollars," he said.

And with the Convention and Visitor's Bureau on board with the idea, Herenton had strong words for people against the plan.

"I hope some of these citizens stop drinking this 'Hate-oraide' and get on this bandwagon of progress," he said.

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