Houston is spending a lot of money: $1.5 billion to give downtown a makeover for next year's Super Bowl
On Thursday, we dug deeper and found that $250 million of that is being put into the complete facelift and reconstruction of George R. Brown Convention Center. Houston First—the tourism bureau—will be putting that money up and that comes from hotel tax dollars.
It will cost more $400 million to build the Marriott Marquis—a hotel that will sit right off of Discovery Green and be the host hotel for the area. That will be funded by private investors.
Tourism and hotel officials tell us the improvements aren't solely for the Super Bowl; they're also for the future of Houston. These officials believe the price tag is well worth it.
"It used to be that you had an empty convention center on the edge of downtown. Now we want people to come here all the time to eat, to experience art, to experience entertainment," said A.J. Mistretta, public relations director for Houston First. "Folks want to have that pedestrian environment, they want to be able to experience things outside their hotel to go grab lunch and walk around Discovery Green park."
The Marriott is the catalyst to all the development
"So you get the visitors first, you're going to get the residents next and everything is going to follow that," said Jay Marsella, director of sales and marketing for Marriott Marquis.
Google Earth views show the evolution of downtown—from its days with just houses to the last time the Super Bowl was in Houston in 2004. Discovery Green didn't exist then and the Hilton had just opened.
"A lot of things were different in 2004: from how people approached this game to what people thought about Houston," Mistretta added.
When the Super Bowl was here last time there were 5,000 hotel rooms downtown; now there are 8,000.
The Marriott is set to open in November.