We’ve linked to articles by San Diego local Don Bauder before — he’s a definite gadfly who doesn’t accept the status quo, and he has a lot of questions about the proposed expansion of the San Diego convention center and the task force report. Although we’re in FAVOR of the San Diego con staying in San Diego, were we locals we would be very cautious in a community that has already seen major fraud and instability from the local government. A convention center expansion is a project rife for kickbacks and questions should be asked.
Heywood Sanders, professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the ranking national authority on convention centers, has read the draft report by the mayor’s task force purportedly studying convention center expansion, and concludes is it full of dubious statements based on distorted statistics. He says that the heralded growth of convention center business is based almost entirely on the growth of Comic-Con. In fact, the Rock and Roll Marathon and Comic-Con account for one-fourth of attendance, he says. San Diego may dump money into a convention center expansion just to keep Comic-Con. But the decision on where Comic-Con will go is up to Comic-Con, not San Diego, Sanders points out.
This is a healthy piece to read for its skepticism…BUT, it repeats the canard that San Diego has a lot of locals who don’t spend money. That may PARTIALLY be true…but then WHY ARE HOTEL ROOMS SOLD OUT ALL THE WAY TO CARLSBAD? Can’t there be some happy medium between fiscal responsibility AND admitting that Comic-Con is a huge event that spends tons of money in the local economy?
Okay I read this a bit more closely, and thanks to this link in the comments, I’ve found the transcript of Prof. Sanders’ — characterized as a “Whack job” by one Convention Center employee — remarks to the task force, and it does appear that he was misquoted. and he uncoveres–as have several before him–the mystery of San Diego’s hotel room situation, which I’ll quote with some context.
These are the figures for primary event attendance and total hotel room night generation by year provided to me by the SDCC. What is intriguing about these to me is after the expansion, how the primary attendance number rises very rapidly, but the hotel room night number does not show much of an increase from the peak years in the 1990s. This has for me, for a very long time presented an intriguing kind of analytical conundrum. Part of the reason, obviously, and this is taken from the PricewaterhouseCoopers report is that several large events, notably Comic-Con, the two ASR trade expos and the Rock N’ Roll marathon, generate large attendance volumes without necessarily generating very many hotel room nights. Indeed Comic-Con, for all its size, appears to generate the hotel room night demand, according to the convention center’s numbers, of about a 7,000 attendee medical event. If I pull those numbers out of the attendance numbers, that Steve Johnson of the Center was kind enough to give me, but the Center could only generate after 2000. You’ll see what the expansions impact actually looks like on that black line labeled adjusted attendance. Then we have some information on the attendance and room night generation for a number of large recent events. I didn’t highlight the Comic-Con numbers there but I think you can see these numbers are rounded. They are from the PricewaterhouseCoopers report. They are slightly different from the Center’s numbers because they rounded them. Comic-Con at 123,000 attendees with 20,300 hotel room nights. And then you’ll see right above it the American College of OBGYNs, 7,000 attendees at 21,000 room nights.
Well, that is indeed a “conundrum.”
Reading the comments, it seems thatthe entire CC expansion is caught up in a lot of local politicking (SHOCK!) and the kind of stadium mall and facility building that consultants always want to approve whether the people need them or not. And in the middle, one of the biggest events of the year, Comic-Con.
San Diego The Southland really needs to come to terms with its nerd needs–who needs who more, the city or the Con?