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January 19, 2015
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Opinion: Building a Case for Convention Center Expansion

The following is reprinted from Association Meetings International, part of IMR's UK partner MeetPie:

Edinburgh International Convention Centre

The financing of convention centres, particularly in times of austerity, has always been a contentious issue. Many rely on public subsidy, so delivering a tangible return for the taxpayer is crucial. Despite the obvious boost to local economies from hosting meetings and events, raising the funds to pay for extensions or redevelopments can be an arduous task, even in the most advanced economies.

Consider the vast sums involved – tens of millions of euros,pounds or dollars, if not hundreds of millions of euros, pounds or dollars. The much-vaunted £85 million Lennox Suite extension at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre (EICCC), for example, was financed by owners Edinburgh City Council, but only after project leaders were able to produce a 30-year framework, which promised the development would generate £2.3bn for the city’s economy.

(It is hardly surprising that newly installed CEO Marshall Dallas has publicly pledged to improve the EICC’s  performance after trading losses of more than £1 million were revealed for the year ending December 2013. He has vowed to return an operating profit for the venue within 18 months).

Elsewhere convention centres have spectacularly failed to raise the vast sums involved for expansion. Hopes of increasing capacity at the San Diego Convention Centre appear dead in the water after a court ruled the $520m financing plan – which meant the city’s hotel owners imposing a room tax on its customers -  was illegal because it was not put before the electorate.

Read more at MeetPie.com...

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