Casper Conference Center Plans Dead After SLIB Vote
Dreams of a conference center and luxury hotel complex in Casper were shot down again Thursday after the Wyoming State Land Investment Board voted against a $5 million funding proposal that would have been put toward needed infrastructure improvements at the proposed conference center site.
Casper city manager John Patterson says he was stunned by the 4-1 vote Thursday that denied the city access to the $3 million grant and $2 million loan.
“It was shocking – it took me a couple of minutes to actually get out of my chair after the vote because it went so wrong,” Patterson said. “It just didn’t make any sense.”
The money would have been used as a development catalyst, leading to the construction of what Patterson says would have been a $48 million complex. Most of the money would have come from a private investor.
Patterson says that investor now has no interest in building in Casper after Thursday's vote.
“I spoke to the developer’s representative, he had been in contact with the developer and the gentleman with the funds behind it, and they’re done,” Patterson said. “It wasn’t about ego, it wasn’t about profits for them – it was about community, and now they are finished.”
A similar plan to construct a $50 million hotel and conference center complex in downtown Casper failed in March of last year. In that proposal, the city would have spent $12 million on the conference center’s construction contingent upon the city finding a hotelier that was willing to build a $30 million hotel with private funds next door.
In March, Patterson said the public-private partnership was deemed unworkable in the face of a changing Casper City Council political atmosphere. He also noted certain land acquisition challenges.
The re-imagined complex would have been built on Amoco Reuse land west of Casper's downtown area.
Gov. Matt Mead was the only person to vote in favor of the funding.