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Possible ABC expansion to attract convention business could cost around $500M, study finds

With those changes, the city could see a $13.9 billion economic boon in the next 30 years, another $6.4 billion in new earnings, and more than 3,200 new jobs.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — City leaders could decide Tuesday whether it is willing to invest $500M so that Corpus Christi could once again become a convention destination. 

The feasibility study commissioned for upgrades to the American Bank Center calls for a 300-room hotel to be built across the street from the facility. Then, the center would undergo a renovation and expansion to accommodate a connected 600-room hotel.

Corpus Christi Dist. 3 Councilmember Roland Barrera told 3NEWS that expansion plans are dependent on a few factors.

"I think if we can entice a developer to come in, that we can work with and have that 300 room hotel, then that's really going to make the decision about where we can go from there," he said. 

If the city does not move forward with the plan, the study states, Corpus Christi could lose out on a lot of money. 

The report states that if the city invests in itself over the next 30 years, it would see a $13.9 billion economic boost, another $6.4 billion in new earnings, and more than 3,200 new jobs.

Corpus Christi Councilmember At-Large Mike Pusley said the proposed expansion to the ABC would only boost the local economy. 

"There's no doubt that having a viable convention center in your city -- the size of Corpus Christi -- is going to help your economy," he said. "It helps everything. It helps your businesses, and helps to bring in additional tax revenue, hotel/motel tax, all those things that help generate income for our city."

Barrera told 3NEWS that he has high hopes for expansion in the Downtown area. 

"Let's just say I'm cautiously optimistic," he said. "I know something needs to be done. The study basically came up with a lot more of a grandiose program than I ever anticipated."

The current problem that the American Bank Center faces is that it cannot attract the same convention business as other cities around the state because those places have built hotels onto their convention centers for convenience.

"There's no doubt that having a hotel there, connected to our convention center, will certainly improve our ability to attract the larger conventions, and we've lost some business over the last few years because of that," Pusley said. 

The study also lists tools which the city might turn to for financing, and both councilmen also hope a local hotelier might want to take on the project. If not, then a national search will begin.

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