Looks like Pittsburgh is going to get a highly subsidized convention center hotel:
... the state Legislature this week included a $34 million subsidy for the $103 million project when it approved projects paid for from the slots development fund. The fund, based on 5 percent of taxes paid by slots casinos, also is helping to pay for a replacement for Mellon Arena.
I think that sucks. But such is life. In the meantime, I think it will be interesting to see how this will be received. The headline on this story is interesting itself. It mentions the word "subsidy." But wait. This money is from the casino fund. If you recall from the recent arena kerfuffle, some supporters argued that money from the slots funds wasn't exactly "taxpayer money." It was money from gamblers that the state just happened to be collecting. Which made it... different.
In the meantime, here is an absolutely devastating report from Brookings. It details how wrongheaded the whole "convention-center-as economic-development" argument really is. The long and short of it: The amount of convention space in the U.S. has exploded, while the number of conventions has not. And publicly financed hotels hardly ever--if ever--pay off.
Good money after bad.