The Aurora City Council has declared 125 acres of vacant land near Denver International Airport “blighted” in a step toward developing a Gaylord Entertainment Co. resort that would adjoin the proposed new home of the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.

The 1,500-room hotel and stock-show development are two elements of an overall plan that would require voter approval of $150 million of bonds.

The decision to move the stock show from its long-standing home in north Denver has angered some officials in the Mile High City, where the annual winter event draws thousands of visitors.

Aurora, a fast-growing suburb on the eastern edge of Denver, has offered Gaylord $300 million in incentives to build the resort.

Declaring the site blighted qualifies it for federal urban renewal funds. Under the blighted designation, local governments, schools, and special districts may rebate to developers what they pay in property tax for 25 years.

Studies commissioned by National Western have shown that building a new complex at the existing grounds in a congested industrial section of Denver would cost $100 million more than starting at a vacant site.

National Western wants to own the grounds where it holds its annual event and lease the facilities to other promoters.

The last major upgrade to National Western’s grounds came in 1995, with a $30 million bond issue. National Western still has 29 years on its lease with Denver.

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