Less state funding will affect SeaGate Centre project

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TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - A major disappointment for Lucas County and the renovation of the SeaGate Convention Centre.

Commissioners are getting far less in state money than they asked so the county will have to come up with more money to make the renovations and upgrades.

This week, commissioners were going to roll out their new design for SeaGate, timing it with release of the state's funding announcement.

But instead... no rollout... and far less money.

Democratic commissioner Carol Contrada, who's leading the county's effort on the project said, "I'm very disappointed there couldn't have been more of an investment in this capital budget."

Commissioners asked for $10-million but received just $500-thousand.

That was surprising given that the convention centre generates $80-million dollars a year in business and shocking when you learn Danny Thomas Park got $400,000 for much needed upgrades.

Contrada says, "It is difficult to evaluate how inscrutable the decision making process is."

The decision even confounded state senator Edna Brown (D-District 11) who pushed the request. Brown told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "I don't know what the rationale was for giving them only $500,000."

We checked with the senate finance chairman's office and were told lawmakers looked at the project and determined since it would benefit private corporations, namely the two connected hotels, bonding was limited.

Only an atrium designed for the project qualified for state bonding.

Carol Contrada says the county could look for a corporate sponsor to help out like it did with the Fifth-Third Field and the Huntington Center.

She insists the renovation project "still has the same meaning to Northwest Ohio that it always did, we're just going to have to look for another way to make this work."

This project could now take longer to complete. Contrada insists it will still go forward but maybe in phases.

Lucas County asked for a lot of money, $10-million for this project alone. Taken altogether, Wood and Lucas Counties only received $7-million from the state for project funding.