The Tyler City Council heard two presentations today on the feasibility of building a new hotel conference center complex and an arena large enough to hold indoor sporting events and other major attractions that would seat up to 8,000 people.

The consultants who presented the study found Tyler is uniquely positioned to attract private investors for the construction and management of a full-service hotel conference center. Further, they went on to prioritize potential sites for the facility and suggest a prospective financing plan for the $57 to $75 million project, pending further study.

The consultants also found that Tyler could benefit from an arena to host concerts, sporting events and other large-scale events. The arena could seat from 5,500 to 8,000 attendees with a total of 159,500 square feet at an estimated cost of $44 million to $66 million. This would be the only facility of its size between Shreveport and Dallas. A more refined estimate of cost is pending further study.

“The hotel conference center would be a public-private partnership with 63 percent of the funding coming from private investment,” said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass.  “Only a small portion of this project would be public funds – and those would come from hotel tax revenue.”

Tourism was identified as one of Tyler’s chief opportunities for economic growth in the Industry Growth Initiative that was adopted in mid-2010. It is estimated that nearly 20,000 visits are lost each year because Tyler has not had the facilities to accommodate large conferences.

“Tourism brings fresh dollars to our economy,” Bass said.  “This is money from outside our region being spent in Tyler. The result is jobs for Tylerites and economic vitality.”

On June 27, The City Council will consider a contract with the consultants to take the next step for the two projects, including seeking securing potential locations, seeking partners and conducting preliminary designs for the projects.