Waco Considers Venue Tax for $34 Million Events Center Overhaul


WACO, TX — McLennan County voters could decide whether to approve a $34.4 million overhaul — paid for by out-of-towners — of the Extraco Events Center by enacting a venue tax.

The added tax would affect only visitors staying in hotels or renting vehicles in the county and would fund the project aimed at attracting larger tournaments and exhibits to the Extraco Events Center. The boost in turnout would help with economic development and create a self-sustaining model, leaders say.

“It creates a sustainable model that has the opportunity to be funded through a venue tax that would not tax residents in any way, but those who stay in hotel or motels or might rent cars,” said Wes Allison, president and CEO of the Extraco Events Center. “The neat thing about this for me is this does not cost the citizens of McLennan County a penny. It’s something that will fund itself.”

County commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday in support of fairground organizers’ master plan for the overhaul.

County, city of Waco and Waco Independent School District leaders now await approval from the Texas Comptroller’s Office to ask residents to vote on implementing a 2 percent hotel and motel occupancy tax and a 5 percent rental car tax. Revenue from the tax could be used only to pay for sporting- or competition-related purposes.

The project would bring in new events and visitors, spur spinoff development and allow for destination branding and marketing, Allison said.

The project is estimated to cost $34.37 million and include redevelopment of the entire 60-acre fairground site. Plans include an additional $6.88 million for future phases.