Vanderburgh County will contribute a total of $3.5 million to the project, should it get five "yes" votes from City Council. The Convention and Visitor's Bureau will contribute $2 million. The remaining $1.5 million will come from the county government. Abell said refinancing bonds for The Centre will supply $1.2 million and the remaining $300 thousand will come from economic development funds. Funds from the county's contribution would be used to support the hotel's ancillary projects, specifically to connect the hotel to The Centre.
As Evansville anxiously awaits to see how the council will vote on the proposal, Abell says The Centre's fate is dangling in the balance. She recently wrote a bold letter to council saying build this hotel or see The Centre shut down.
"We are suffering. Our income is suffering at The Centre and we do need the hotel built," said Abell. "We're not making money on The Centre, in fact, we are losing money on The Centre but we've kept it open and we want to keep it open with the thought in mind that there will be a hotel built and we will be back in the convention business someday. But we can't keep it open on wedding receptions and annual dinners. It just won't keep the bills paid."
In an e-mail obtained by Eyewitness News, City Council Finance Chair John Friend (D-5th Ward) accuses Abell of misleading the public as to the true financial condition of The Centre. Writing to City Council President Connie Robinson he says, "If Marsha Abell should elect to close The Centre [...] She will be costing taxpayers major bucks."
Abell says The Centre has never made money; it's accumulated a nearly $8 million deficit. She suggests Friend isn't taking into account the county pumps thousands of dollars from its general fund into The Centre every year. Without that money and the innkeeper's subsidy, she says the venue wouldn't be able to stay afloat.