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Gulf convention hotel: Tourism boom or boondoggle?

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By PHILLIP RAWLS
Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - NN

1 of the most pristine areas in Alabama, a sandy white stretch at Gulf State Park, could become the site of a large hotel and conference center.

Bills pending in the Legislature would let the state use money from BP's Gulf oil spill fund to build a conference center and let a private developer build an adjoining hotel. The Republican sponsors, Sen. Trip Pittman and Rep. Steve McMillan, said the goal is to create an upscale site on the Alabama coast to attract conventions like those drawn to Sandestin in the Florida Panhandle.

Opponents, including former state Conservation Commissioner Charley Grimsley and the owners of a convention hotel in Orange Beach, say it's a giveaway of valuable state land and a boondoggle for taxpayers.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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