Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is smart to wait and review as much information as possible on the future of the National Western Stock Show before deciding whether or not to pull Denver's application for state money to help pay for a move.
All 13 members of the Denver City Council signed a letter Monday asking Hancock to withdraw a $6.1 million request for state Regional Tourism Act funding, which is part of a $91.5 million request that also includes a 1,500-room Gaylord hotel and conference center.
While their request strikes us as premature, acceding to it is unlikely to scuttle Aurora's hotel deal. Officials with Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment have said their project, assuming it gets state tax credits, can proceed without the planned stock show facility.
As a result, there is less downside should Hancock pull the reins on the stock show application in advance of the Dec. 5 deadline. But he may not need to.
Hancock created a working group to look into the stock show's facilities and the possibilities for expansion on the current site or elsewhere. A spokeswoman said Tuesday that he expects their report prior to Dec. 5 and will review it in conjunction with all of the other information at hand before making any decision on the RTA application.
Stock show officials have said their facilities are becoming outdated and that the current site does not easily allow for expansion needed if the enterprise is to thrive.
Denver and Aurora in June submitted a joint request for state tax breaks for the Gaylord/stock show project. That application, unfortunately, set the stock show discussion on the wrong course.
As a result of a reportedly difficult Federal Aviation Administration review process for a proposal that would have relocated the stock show within Denver's city limits — and still adjacent to the Gaylord property — those plans called for siting it in Aurora instead.
That arrangement has proved to be a high hurdle, even after a majority of Aurora council members went on record supporting the idea of allowing Denver to annex the land. It focused initial discussion on municipal boundaries rather than on the feasibility and the necessity of the stock show move.
Further troubling was the fact that the application envisioned asking Denver voters to approve a $150 million bond to help make the move happen.
And a study commissioned by downtown Denver interests estimated that a move to land adjacent to Gaylord could cost Denver $31 million annually. Yet that study didn't contemplate an annexation deal. It also failed to consider any economic benefit — and there surely would be some — from a redeveloped stock show site.
The city auditor has weighed in. The council has weighed in. The working group has not. We look forward to seeing their report.
Once it is in hand, we must keep one question at the forefront of the discussion. That question is not: "What's best for Denver?" It is: "What must be done to keep the National Western Stock Show a viable regional enterprise for a second century?"