Television spots, websites, social media and yard signs--those for and against the Ambassador Hotel project are rolling out their campaigns. They're trying to get the public interested in a February 28th special election.
"Hopefully people will understand that we have a city council that made a decision that's probably questionable," project opponent Tom Merrill says.
The group campaigning against the plan wants voters to overrule a commitment the city council made to the company renovating the downtown hotel. It's a multi-million dollar commitment that won't raise taxes, but will allow the new hotel to keep 75 percent of the guest tax it generates. That's money which normally helps fund tourism efforts by the Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Supporters say it's a no-brainer. They say the plan will pay off big not only for downtown but for the entire city of Wichita. They say the big challenge is getting the public to understand the facts.
"There will a bigger push in the next few weeks," Keith Stevens of the group called Moving Wichita Forward says.
The vote yes campaign says much of its money is coming from the hotel's owner--Tulsa developer Paul Coury. The group says the refurbished hotel will generate a quarter million dollars a year in property taxes. As is, the empty building is generating a tenth of that. In addition, they say the hotel will kick in millions more by bringing more conventions to the city, all the while encouraging further downtown development.
Moving Wichita Forward has a television spot that is about to hit the air. The opposition group says it doesn't have money for that. But the group is doing speaking engagements and rolled out yard signs last week. Their message is simple.
"We just want people to understand that a no vote means that we're trying to make sure that government doesn't pick winners and losers," Merrill says.
Opponents say that's the job of voters who get the final say.