Taking your questions to lawmakers: Oncenter bailout

Our story yesterday about a $1.8 million bailout for the Oncenter attracted a large response on our Facebook page and our website that apparently may have little impact on the legislature's upcoming decision.

Legislature chairman Jim Rhinehart tells CNYcentral's Jim Kenyon that he expects lawmakers will approve all or some of the $1.8 million bailout. He asked, "What's the alternative? Are we going to close county facilities?"

Rhinehart points out that counties often must subsidize convention centers in order to attract visitors and business to an area. For instance, he says they learned that Monroe County subsidizes Rochester's War Memorial to the tune of several millions dollars a year.

One of the biggest hurdles to the success of a convention center in Syracuse has been the lack of a designated hotel. Wilmorite Incorporated, of Rochester, has proposed building a $98 million hotel next to the convention center in Syracuse, but has not moved on the project since 2004 because of a lack of financing. Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot is now proposing that such a hotel be tied to his ability to build a racino somewhere in Onondaga County. A racino would allow for off track betting and video slot machines. One location that has been considered would be near the State Fairgrounds. A spokesperson for Wilmorite has not yet returned our call.

Wilmorite has not yet filed an application for a racino with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. A spokesperson for the Racing and Wagering Board, Joe Mahoney, tells Jim Kenyon there have been discussions with Wilmorite regarding a racino, but no applications yet.

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