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Mesa Voters to Decide Fate of Proposed Billion-Dollar Resort Tomorrow

Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Company has proposed building a mega-resort in Mesa that would include a convention space, retail shops, and an 18-hole golf course. But the company's dream of turning the East Valley into a major metropolitan hub for conventions and high-profile visitors could be quashed at the polls tomorrow.

Gaylord Entertainment Company, which owns the Grand Ole Opry, among other things, has received support from Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who told the Arizona Republic that "When you have the opportunity to jump-start development in a way that can ripple through not only Mesa but the entire East Valley, and in many ways the state of Arizona, it's significant."

More significant to voters tomorrow will be the $51 million dollars in hotel-bed taxes they'll have to pay for the next 30 years if the Gaylord resort gets the green light. (A Mesa charter requires voters to approve any cultural or sports project that costs $1.5 million or more.)

While Mayor Smith and others tout the proposed facility as a way to create more jobs in Mesa and bring in some much-needed revenue, critics argue that the tax incentives for Gaylord Entertainment Company -- an $85 million break in property taxes on top of the $51 hotel-bed tax rebates -- are questionable and won't benefit the city much (if the resort is built, it will be owned by City of Mesa, which is why the proposal is going to election.)

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow. For voter information on this proposal (Prop 300 on the ballot) visit www.mesaaz.gov/clerk.

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