Phoenix: $90M at risk because of immigration fallout

Jahna Berry, The Arizona Republic

USA Today

May 11, 2010

Phoenix may be on the verge of losing hotel and convention center business worth about $90 million over the next five years because of fallout from Arizona's new immigration law, a top city official said.

The City Council will be briefed on the issue on Tuesday.

The new immigration law requires that police ask for proof of citizenship if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. The law has attracted international attention, as well as calls for tourists and businesses to boycott Arizona.

Phoenix city and tourism officials have compiled a "watch list" of about 19 events, said David Krietor, a deputy city manager who is tracking the issue.

The list includes four organizations that have canceled events, in addition to more than a dozen other groups that have expressed concerns about the new law.

Those "watch list" events impact city run venues, such as the Phoenix Convention Center and the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, as well as hotels and resorts around the city.

"We have an image and public relations problem of what might be unprecedented proportions," Krietor said.

The $90 million figure represents the estimated amount of money that those groups' members would spend in the region. Some events are scheduled to take place this year while others are booked as far out at 2015.

The canceled events include the oldest African American Greek-lettered fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which was supposed hold a July meeting at the Sheraton. The fraternity's annual convention was expected to draw an estimated 5,000 attendees and as many as 10,000 visitors in July. Organizers will now hold that event in Las Vegas.

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