G-BAD Election Is About Spending Room Taxes

With six candidates chasing only two seats on an obscure government board, the Greater Boise Auditorium District election of May 17 would seem like a yawner. Not so if you are in the public relations, advertising, hotel, or even the DANCE business.

The big issue is a split among candidates over funding The Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVB) which is not to be confused with G-BAD. Visitors Bureau promotes tourism and Auditorium District promotes conventions. For years they were one happy incestuous family. When a judge ruled in a Pocatello law suit that auditorium districts couldn’t spend their funds for visitor bureaus, a philosophical debate ensured among G-BAD boys. The board cut funding to the BCVB. They get their money from a 5% room tax. The money is public money even though the tax is dedicated to the G-BAD.

There is an industry of consultants making a good living convincing local communities they NEED a convention center or a BIGGER convention center. Typically these “consultants” take $25,000 or so from the locals to conduct a survey and invariably the survey indicates the local community would benefit from a convention center in the form of JOBS and a massive infusion of cash. It is impossible to calculate the true economic benefit. When things head south they blame “the economy” or the price of gas.

The May 17 election will see not only the Boise contested race, but moves by city leaders in Idaho Falls and Nampa to create auditorium districts with convention centers. Common sense tells us there simply isn’t that much convention business in Idaho to attract profitable events year around.

The STATESMAN‘s Cynthia Sewell did all the leg work and provided a comprehensive look at the Boise election in Wednesday’s edition. Of particular interest to the GUARDIAN was the revelation that $10,000 in public tax money aimed at promoting tourism is being spent by The Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau to sponsor a dance troupe in New York. Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival, will feature Boise’s Trey McIntyre Project dance group on Aug. 3 in New York City. That is supposed to promote travel to Boise. Right! These are the type of decisions that cause the split at G-BAD.

A candidate forum sponsored by the Treasure Valley Lodging Association is set for Friday April 29 at the GROVE HOTEL. The 3-5 p.m. event will be open to the public.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. “Common sense tells us there simply isn’t that much convention business in Idaho to attract profitable events year around.”

    That’s a pretty ignorant statement.

    In fact, if you did any research you’d find that small market meetings are growing (they even have their own industry publication) and Boise has a good opportunity to benefit if it seizes it.

    EDITOR NOTE–Thank-you for your insight. If they have a publication it must be true–just like the internet and the GUARDIAN.

  2. Out of all the people I know who live out of state, not one would travel here for a convention. Las Vegas, Hawaii, New York, New Orleans, Seattle, Portland perhaps but not Boise.

    The people selling the hope and dream make millions selling the potato patch people a dream and hope if they build it people will come. How stupid is this?

  3. What is really stupid is the people who buy into idea that Boise is a convention town and needs a bigger convention building. Obvioulsy they think Boise is better than Nampa or Caldwell. How dumb is that?

  4. Maybe one out of the six is somewhat qualified. The rest makes me want to know if there is a box for “None Of The Above”!!

  5. One thing that people do forget is that the convention center isn’t just for those outside of Idaho. The Boise Centre already serves on average 200,000+ guests a year and hosts over 300 events.

    Curiously, the Pocatello issue had to do with a lawsuit brought upon by Ameritel Inns. They opposed the appended 2% guest tax brought in by those from outside of Idaho.

  6. Thanks Zack for reminding everyone of the Ameritel bias. Seems like BG forgot about it. Or maybe BG has its own bias.

    Over 1 million people live within a 2 to 3 hour drive of Boise. Make that a 5 hour drive and its more like 6 million. Millions more live just a non-stop plane ride away.

    What is the logic behind Boise is not a convention town? Sure Boise is not a LV, NYC or LA. This is an asset not a liability. Regardless, tourists come here from all over. As long as there have been people there have been pow wows. Wasn’t there an annual trade meeting in the late 1800s in the Jackson Hole area? Those people had to travel on horse back.

    Spokane did it in 2006. Is Spokane better or smarter than Boise?

  7. Cynic, you are overlooking the major problem Boise must face when competing with other cities of our size. You ask what do those cities have that we don’t? CASINOS!! Boise offers what we like and why we live here. Parks, a couple of really good restaurants, ease to manuever around and a
    small town” way of life. None of which are factored into a decision by a medium to large company from another part of the country to want to bring it’s convention here. We will live with “small market” conventions for the foreseeable future. This belief that if we build in the supply, the demand will respond is irresponsible on all levels and just plain stupid on some.

  8. boisecynic – where on earth do you get those population figures 2-3 hours from Boise?

    Salt Lake is a 5 1/2 hour drive. Portland is a 6 hour drive or so. Seattle is around 8-9 hours. Spokane is 7-8 hours. Unless you’re going 150-175 mph, there is no way we have that population so close to Boise.

    Salt Lake County is 1.2 million.
    The Seattle area is 3.7 million.
    Portland area is 2.2 million.
    Spokane area may be 1 million but more likely less.

    Heck the whole state of Idaho is less than 1.6 million and they sure all don’t live within a 2-3 hour drive of Boise. Besides, one really doesn’t rely on conventioneers from their own area to make a go of convention centers.

    The only thing you’ve gotten right is that there are millions of people who live a non-stop plane ride away.

    I don’t care who gets on GBAD, as long as it’s not Judy Peavey Derr.

  9. boisecyinc, I’ll bet you probably think if we just had that dang ol train to nowhere for only $60MM and the shiny new convention center then folks from all over would just flock to Boise to marvel at it all.

    You need to get out of town once in a while to see what the rest of the world has to offer for conventioneers. Boise wouldn’t make the top 20 places for a serious convention. Don’t get me wrong I love living here but I have done my share of world travel and Boise is not a destination resort or fun city by any stretch of the imagination.

    It’s a great place to live and if you build it they won’t come. Take a good look at the Idaho Center. Dead time in that place is costing Nampa property taxpayers a bundle. Let’s quit playing “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all”… and put scarce tax dollar to good public uses.

  10. Nan emouse:

    2 to 3 hour drive without splitting hairs, nearly 1 million

    Boise Nampa metro 600,000
    Baker County 16,000
    TF County 65,000
    Blaine 19,000
    Elmore 30,000
    Valley 8,000
    Gooding 15,000
    Jerome 18,000
    Payette 20,000

    5 to 6 hour drive:

    To the east: 2 million

    SLC 1.2 million
    Ogden Clearfield 540,000
    Logan County 50,000
    Bonneville County 100,000
    Bannock County 75,000

    To the west: 2.4 million

    Tri- Cities 250,000
    Umatilla County 70,000
    Portland Metro 2,200,000


    Yakima County 250,000
    Lewiston, Clarkston, Moscow Pullman 100,000

    I’ve made it to SLC in 5 hours. 70 x 5 = 350. I’ve made it to Moscow in 5 hours. I’ve made it to PDX in 6 hours.

  11. My friends, the reason every city wants a convention center is the economic impact it has on its community. I believe BSU did and impact study a year or two ago and found that the Centre on the Grove produced over $50 million that year. The Grove, as I understand it, is one of the few center in the US that makes a profit. Sadly, the election issue isn’t about any of that. It’s about too many misguided individuals wanting to break the law and give money to the corrupt visitors bureau, and they openly admit it. It will never, ever happen without the legislature changing laws. It’s absolutely pathetic.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: