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New York News

New Albany Convention Center Plan

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-872095.mp3

Albany, NY – It's been on the back burner for awhile - today the downtown Albany Convention Center Authority revealed a new design and a new way of funding the project, as we hear in this report from Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas.

Albany Convention Center Authority chairman Gavin Donahue revealed plans for a new facility this morning. Donahue says the convention center will house an exhibition hall, two ballrooms and other meeting space. The convention center would be built near the Times Union Center in the area near where Broadway and Hudson Avenue meet. Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings says there's no reason New York's Capital City shouldn't be able to accomodate conventions.

The authority would issue bonds backed by the state to fund the project. Not everyone is on board: The Times Union points out that a September Siena Research Institute Poll found that 52 per cent of Albany residents, specifically Democrats, oppose the center.

Siena Pollster Steve Greenberg says the convention center question appeared in a poll relating to the Albany Mayoral Race, a survey of likely democratic primary voters, and while there's no plan to ask such a question again in a future poll, Greenberg won't rule out the possibility. Albany Common Councilman Dom Calsolaro has never been a big supporter of a convention center - but believes the new plan is the best he's seen to date.

Plans call for loaned money to be repaid by revenue generated by the center, along with funds generated by an Albany County hotel occupancy tax, and by an annual subsidy from New York State. Officials hope to break ground for the new facility in 2010.