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Re-Shuffle

As a continually developing city and popular tourist attraction, the city of Duluth relies heavily on revenue from tourists and local citizens to help boost the economy. As a large attraction for concerts, conventions and hockey games, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center [DECC] is just the place to look to make improvements to attract more people and increase the revenues.

And by improvements--without all the detail--I mean that the DECC might be getting bigger.

For several years the citizens Duluth, along with state and local leaders, have been anticipating whether or not the expansion of the DECC will even be funded.

With a proposed bill of roughly $40 million in 2006, the expansion bill did not pass its first time through legislative session. However the upcoming session in Feb. could result in the approval for the funding, getting the expansion underway.

In addition to new suites, concourses and restrooms, the expansion plan includes a new arena with more show space, 7,000 additional seats for hockey and more than 8,500 seats for concerts.

To fund the expansion, the bill would be divided between the state, money earned from an increase on food and beverage tax in Duluth and contributions from the DECC and UMD.

How would this work you might ask? The state intends to provide half the funding, leaving revenue from the food and beverage tax—which Duluth citizens showed support for in a 2006 vote with a 61 percent to 39 percent margin—and contributions from the DECC and UMD to fund the other half.

If the bill passes in the next legislative session, once the expansion of the DECC is finished, the hope of those pushing for the new arena is that it will attract more national conventions and national entertainment; bringing thousands more people to Duluth each year.

Another perk, in addition to more conventions and national entertainment, the new arena will provide jobs for hundreds of Duluth citizens during its 18 to 24 months of construction. 300 union jobs will be filled, with 90 percent of those workers being local.

Despite the mixed emotions from the political figures of Duluth, students and state-wide representatives about the funding of the DECC expansion, the 2008 legislative session is the ultimate determinant of the project.