Texarkana Convention Center Showdown Ends in Dueling Developments

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 12:00 am  

Harold Boldt, left, and Kenny Haskin said the planned water park on the Arkansas side will be a “game changer.” (Photo by Luke Jones)

The $24 million, 25,000-SF Texas convention center opened Oct. 5. It has a 12,000-SF ballroom, and the attached Hilton Garden Inn has 154 rooms. Dougherty said it was funded mostly by money set aside from revenue created when a hotel and motel tax was increased from 5 percent to 7 percent.

"That additional 2 percent was set aside for the building of a convention center," Dougherty said. "So the convention center was built with that money and the money bonded from that. There was no burden on local citizens: The entire convention center was funded through that 2 percent. It was paid for by visitors to Texarkana."

The Race

Boldt and Haskin, meanwhile, were not fazed.

"When you have a partnership, and one walks away, you could lie down and say, 'Woe is me,' but that's not my mentality, and it's not Kenny's mentality," Boldt said.

Years of competing against Texas laws had hardened them to businesses fleeing across the state line.

"This was the best location all along," Boldt said. "You can begin to understand why Kenny and I always use the word 'stealthy.' That's what we had to be, with all the development occurring on the Texas side for so many years."

They began seeking a local investor to fund the Arkansas convention center.

"I was determined - we were both determined to make something happen," Boldt said. "Being able to pursue this, and believe in it, is as important as having an investor. But a lot of people didn't think we would ever get it done."

They were convinced the city would have enough traffic to warrant two distinct convention centers.

"We're extremely confident in the fact that we will be able to do what it takes to make sure we're very comparable," Haskin said.

In 2008, the pair found an investor.



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