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Commissioners to discuss FSU Convention Center at May Blueprint meeting

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A new convention center for Florida State University has been discussed for years as part of the proposed Arena District.

FSU came to the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency asking for funding last year.

The local governments agreed to commit $40 million dollars to the project in March of 2020, but then gave $10 million of that to Florida A&M University for repairs to Bragg Memorial Stadium in December.

Now, some leaders say they don’t want the center built at all.

With the $10 million allocated to FAMU, the funding on the table for an FSU convention center is at $30 million. The issue will come up at the May Blueprint meeting.

“I just think it’s time we lay this project to rest. it’s a project that no longer has popular public support, and we just need to move forward,” says City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow.

Matlow believes it’s not an appropriate use of local sales tax dollars.

“I think the bottom line is, the state has decided not to fund Florida State’s convention center, and they’ve asked local taxpayers to pay for the whole thing,” he says.

Matlow says the funding could be used for other projects.

“We’ve seen an animal service center that’s no longer funded, and you know, affordable housing. This is a huge need in our community!”

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson disagrees about what Matlow says is a lack of support.

“This was a project that was widely discussed during the community input into whether or not to extend the penny sales tax,” Richardson says.

Richardson says the voters spoke on the issue years ago.

He explains, “60 percent of those who voted approved this as one of the projects that we would explore funding.”

Matlow argues that convention centers are on the decline, and they may not have a place post-pandemic.

However, Richardson says it will be up to the presentation at the May meeting to see the numbers.

“If the community decides that it’s something we have changed our minds about at this point, then there’s a process we would have to go through to take it out of contention as a project that would be funded,” said Richardson.

At the next Blueprint meeting at the end of May, Commissioners will hear an update on FSU’s plans.

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