In reference to your editorial in the April 8 issue of the Casper Star-Tribune, as a former 23-year motel owner and operator here in Casper, I applaud the city council for reversing the city plans for a downtown convention center. Very few conventions last longer than three days. Conventions are scheduled so tightly that there is very little free time left for shopping or sightseeing. That free time is usually early evening. The only time downtown merchants, excluding some restaurants and the theaters, are open in the evening is at Christmas time. Are they willing to change their hours to accommodate convention schedules?
In my opinion, the real issue here is government competing with free enterprise. How many years has the city operated facilities at a loss? Entrepreneurs are not offered that luxury and must be continually concerned about their investments and their desire to see their businesses succeed. Many years ago the County wanted to build a big hotel/motel out at the airport so that the airline/airport personnel would not have to drive all the way into the city for a bed and meals. The local motel association was involved along with other related businesses to convince the county this was a bad idea. Has the local motel association been contacted concerning this proposed convention center?
Another issue that impedes enticing large conventions and meetings here in Casper is the expensive airfare to connect to hub airports.