Opinion

Joint-Use Convention Center? Bye-Bye, Business

Joint-Use Convention Center? Bye-Bye, Business

Photo by Sam Hodgson

The San Diego Convention Center

I was extremely happy to see San Diego’s political, business and labor communities recently come out strongly for the current plans to expand the San Diego Convention Center.

The American College of Surgeons hosts an annual convention in San Diego, the ACS Clinical Congress, attracting more than 18,000 individuals across the medical and health care profession. An expanded center will ensure our ability to grow and stay in the city.

Fix San Diego Opinion logoThe expansion plans provide for more exhibit space, an 80,000-sq. ft. ballroom and more meeting space — exactly what we need. The stunning rooftop park only makes the current facility that much more attractive for our attendees.

San Diego is an ideal city for us because the current convention center is surrounded by three hotels that offer more than 3,500 rooms for our attendees, with thousands more within walking distance. The addition of 500 more rooms in the current proposal would be a win for us, not to mention San Diego’s year-round good weather and wonderful attractions, restaurants and venues along the waterfront and in the Gaslamp Quarter.

A joint-use stadium/convention center facility six blocks away from the current facility and hotels would not be alluring to me or other meeting planners.

Our association’s meeting is held in October each year, and I would not risk our biggest revenue source on a venue that couldn’t guarantee space five to 10 years out. The NFL only releases its schedule within one year of the season, so there is no way to ensure my event would not have a conflict.

I would incur added costs to shuttle attendees from the hotels to the alternative location. If the venue used the stadium floor for exhibits, it would cost my exhibitors a substantial premium to pay for rigging, electrical and booth set-up. I don’t know any meeting planner who would split his or her event by six city blocks. If you threw a party for family and friends, would you choose two locations six blocks apart? I certainly wouldn’t. That makes me much more likely to choose a different city where I don’t face that choice.

The proposed joint-use stadium convention center complex puts San Diego at a competitive disadvantage and would likely result in the loss of some of the largest events in our industry. Our 2017 convention alone is estimated to generate $61 million in economic impact to San Diego, as well as nearly $1 million in hotel and sales tax revenues.

The city has created an ideal package with the location of its current bayside building. Why wouldn’t San Diego want to build on that success?

Felix Niespodziewanski is director of convention and meetings for the American College of Surgeons. Niespodziewanski’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

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44 comments
Augmented Ballot
Augmented Ballot subscriber

The expansion/waterfront should contribute to downtown generally and be a resource for the public. (And it should comply with the law re waterfront access.) The cost to meet that will be greater than the current proposal. I don't think we should be satisfied with a design that saves money -- the absent private funding, in particular -- but only serves conventioneers and the adjacent hotels. I'll look for the specific security concerns in the task force reports.

Augmented Ballot
Augmented Ballot

To me, the important thing is that this is our single opportunity to build this right, or as reasonably right as possible. The Convention Center and harbor should be an asset for the whole of the city, not just conventioneers and guests of the adjacent hotels. The biggest obstacle to that is the Harbor Dr/RR corridor, which separates the public from the CC and waterfront (and also separates conventioneers from downtown businesses and other hotels). Better contiguous designs are possible. I sketched one concept to add to the conversation. https://plus.google.com/u/0/109356308251664342969/posts/cR2srkPtTmL Building right may cost more than the $520M -- down from $550M, from $750M, from $1B -- now proposed. If so, the adjacent hotels which stand to profit greatly from this public investment may have to contribute direct funding as well. We're a big city and can do big things, as they say.Jeffrey Davis - Google+ - An idea for a better contiguous Convention Center...https://plus.google.com/u/0/109356308251664342969/posts/cR2srkPtTmLAn idea for a better contiguous Convention Center expansion. Quick pixel-paining job, concept demo only. Proposal: cut & cover of stretch of Harbor Drive...

Augmented Ballot
Augmented Ballot subscriber

To me, the important thing is that this is our single opportunity to build this right, or as reasonably right as possible. The Convention Center and harbor should be an asset for the whole of the city, not just conventioneers and guests of the adjacent hotels. The biggest obstacle to that is the Harbor Dr/RR corridor, which separates the public from the CC and waterfront (and also separates conventioneers from downtown businesses and other hotels). Better contiguous designs are possible. I sketched one concept to add to the conversation. https://plus.google.com/u/0/109356308251664342969/posts/cR2srkPtTmL Building right may cost more than the $520M -- down from $550M, from $750M, from $1B -- now proposed. If so, the adjacent hotels which stand to profit greatly from this public investment may have to contribute direct funding as well. We're a big city and can do big things, as they say.Jeffrey Davis - Google+ - An idea for a better contiguous Convention Center...https://plus.google.com/u/0/109356308251664342969/posts/cR2srkPtTmLAn idea for a better contiguous Convention Center expansion. Quick pixel-paining job, concept demo only. Proposal: cut & cover of stretch of Harbor Drive...

Richard Ross
Richard Ross

Recent nationwide studies reveal that convention center expansions and new stadiums short term benefit developers and long term only benefit the ball team owners, and the hotel owners. The public gets to see their tax dollars paying for the structures while our city water lines and roads continues to fall apart due to shortage of funds and lack of maintenance.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Recent nationwide studies reveal that convention center expansions and new stadiums short term benefit developers and long term only benefit the ball team owners, and the hotel owners. The public gets to see their tax dollars paying for the structures while our city water lines and roads continues to fall apart due to shortage of funds and lack of maintenance.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Our Port Tidelands belong to the People of the State of California. The land would be a contribution from the State to the public. Nothing to do with the City or Port who are just our Tideland Trustees. In 2008, the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC) acquired the Port's Tideland Leaehold from the privateFifth Avenue Landing LLC $14.5+ million to construct and design the needed Convention Center Expansion. http://www.blogofsandiego.com/Waterfront.htm#04/05/10 The Port is using the same dated 1850 construction techniques of dredging and create land on former sludge beds. Prone to liquefaction, permanent deformation, and soil collapse due to Climate Change and increase tide elevations. If our plan for a Structural Cistern Foundation to create a Full Reclamation of out Tidelands is found cost effective, then the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans could analyze our Full Tidelands Reclamation plan to create subterranean waterfront public space for public transportation, utilities, and industrial uses. Pat Flannery - Blog of San Diegohttp://www.blogofsandiego.com/Waterfront.htm#04/05/10Blog of San Diego Independent, in-depth, document-based analysis San Diego's Waterfront 04/15/10 The Mayor's Embarcadero Plan sunk by Cruise Ships . 12/17/10 Broadway Pier - the hard facts behind the soft spin. I will assume that each of my readers a...

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

Coastal Commission Staff Report Recommending Denial. Large File - 22 MB. http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2013/10/Th25d-10-2013.pdf The Port's plan failed because they did not read the Coastal Act. If they did they would know that our Protected Coastal View Corridor to San Diego Bay includes the view from the new Pedestrian Bridge over Harbor Drive. The Port's design consultant are at fault for the square southwest corner of the structure which limited our Protected View Corridor for no good reason. Sloppy. In addition, instead of the new 500 room luxury Hotel Tower on top of the Parking Structure as planned and approved by the City Council. The location of the Tower was moved to the Northwest of the Parking Structure, further block our Protected View Corridor, but now to the South. The effects of these two design flaws are responsible for the staff recommendation to DENY, If Port staff read the former agreements, they would know that the next project planned for the Convention Center would be to increase public access to our free Waterfront by construction of a Pedestrian Bridge at Fourth Avenue, and new Wayfinding Signs to encourage public use of Embarcadero Marina Park South, and a Public View Patio on the Second Floor of the Convention Center that is never used by the public. The Public View Patio is seen by locals as private and off limits.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Coastal Commission Staff Report Recommending Denial. Large File - 22 MB. http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2013/10/Th25d-10-2013.pdf The Port's plan failed because they did not read the Coastal Act. If they did they would know that our Protected Coastal View Corridor to San Diego Bay includes the view from the new Pedestrian Bridge over Harbor Drive. The Port's design consultant are at fault for the square southwest corner of the structure which limited our Protected View Corridor for no good reason. Sloppy. In addition, instead of the new 500 room luxury Hotel Tower on top of the Parking Structure as planned and approved by the City Council. The location of the Tower was moved to the Northwest of the Parking Structure, further block our Protected View Corridor, but now to the South. The effects of these two design flaws are responsible for the staff recommendation to DENY, If Port staff read the former agreements, they would know that the next project planned for the Convention Center would be to increase public access to our free Waterfront by construction of a Pedestrian Bridge at Fourth Avenue, and new Wayfinding Signs to encourage public use of Embarcadero Marina Park South, and a Public View Patio on the Second Floor of the Convention Center that is never used by the public. The Public View Patio is seen by locals as private and off limits.

Don Wood
Don Wood

Yet another convention center expansion shill weighs in. Seems like every person who makes money off the convention center is sending in op-eds claiming how great the current proposal is. Today the California Coastal Commission staff issued its report recommending that the Commission reject the current proposal because it is patently illegal and would clearly violate the California Coastal Act and other state laws. If you think that the current proposal is stupid and believe that the convention center has alternative ways to address its additional space desires without further blocking off downtown from its bay front, be sure to attend the October 10 Coastal Commission and make your views known.

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

Yet another convention center expansion shill weighs in. Seems like every person who makes money off the convention center is sending in op-eds claiming how great the current proposal is. Today the California Coastal Commission staff issued its report recommending that the Commission reject the current proposal because it is patently illegal and would clearly violate the California Coastal Act and other state laws. If you think that the current proposal is stupid and believe that the convention center has alternative ways to address its additional space desires without further blocking off downtown from its bay front, be sure to attend the October 10 Coastal Commission and make your views known.

Steve Weathers
Steve Weathers

I have many national association clients that I provide services for all over the US. All of them want contiguous space. As Mr. Niespodziewanski points out, the scheduling conflicts between the one year out NFL and the five to ten year out major associations make a joint use facility a bad idea. For the most lucrative shows with exhibits a stadium would need the industry standard floor grid on 20 foot centers of power, water and compressed air and a ceiling of 36' to 40' in height. So where's the turf and dome in that scenario? A multi purpose stadium like the Reliant in Houston would be wonderful for San Diego so let's get the current expansion done and then get to work on a new home for the Chargers. We can do both!

Steve Weathers
Steve Weathers subscriber

I have many national association clients that I provide services for all over the US. All of them want contiguous space. As Mr. Niespodziewanski points out, the scheduling conflicts between the one year out NFL and the five to ten year out major associations make a joint use facility a bad idea. For the most lucrative shows with exhibits a stadium would need the industry standard floor grid on 20 foot centers of power, water and compressed air and a ceiling of 36' to 40' in height. So where's the turf and dome in that scenario? A multi purpose stadium like the Reliant in Houston would be wonderful for San Diego so let's get the current expansion done and then get to work on a new home for the Chargers. We can do both!

sandiegosteven
sandiegosteven

One of the sites evaluated was above the trolley/train yard but was rejected because of cost and the security issues of building above a train yard/rail line post 911. I would guess the same issues would rise up in your proposed location as well.

Steve Weathers
Steve Weathers

Thank you for your comments. I wish for my comments to be educational so that the public can make a decision based on facts. I apologize if I come off as a swindler's accomplice to you.

Steve Weathers
Steve Weathers subscriber

Thank you for your comments. I wish for my comments to be educational so that the public can make a decision based on facts. I apologize if I come off as a swindler's accomplice to you.

sandiegosteven
sandiegosteven

La Playa this proposed expansion has had more than 100 public meetings/presentations so I don't know how you can say the public was shut out. The Mayor's Citizens Task Force had public meetings in every council district in the city and reviewed and rejected a non-contiguous expansion at the Tailgate site where the Chargers are planning their stadium/convention center project. It was all done in public.

David Crossley
David Crossley

The point is we don't need the 5 acre expansion, nor do we need the 15 acre stadium/convention center expansion. I do agree that the voters should decide on a TOT increase, but this would be shot down by the hotel industry, as they have done before. If they don't control it, then (in their eyes) it can't be good for them, and they will use monies that they could use promoting tourism in San Diego to defeat the measure. And if the current lawsuits against the convention center expansion are eventually upheld (due to the questionable financing plan), then NOTHING will be built in the foreseeable future.

David Crossley
David Crossley

LPH--If your plan still includes a combination stadium/convention center expansion, it will never be built. Ever.

Mike Churchill
Mike Churchill

>pay for the land ($0) The cost of the land is not $0, the cost of the land is the highest price the city could get for the land through sales and/or leases on the open market. That figure has to be considered part of the city's contribution.

Jennifer Reiswig
Jennifer Reiswig

Any downtown football stadium would have the same impact on downtown hotel nights, connected to the convention center or not. Not to mention, how many hotel nights would really get booked up MONTHS in advance for an October game? I'm not in favor of any publicly-funded stadium downtown but this is just a red herring.

mzvalencia
mzvalencia

Stop the madness. We should question the investment of millions of taxpayer dollars for the remodel of a building when the group charged with selling the space cannot even meet their projected sales commitments when trying to book the space. Proponents of this Labor backed boondoggle argue that we need the renovation to book more events, or to keep ComicCon. I strongly suggest they work on getting creative with the current space e.g. hotel, convention and even PETCO Park that already exists. If you need a reminder of how badly publicly funded projects go awry, take time to read about that pedestrian bridge south of the convention center that ended up being $14 million over budget. However, if you are so inclined to proceed with this massive convention remodel fraud, open the construction bids to non union contractors. Maybe then we could at least shave some of the waste off of the final bill.

David Crossley
David Crossley

James Weber--I am asking about LaPlayaHeritage's plan. That is completely different than the city-supported $520 million plan.

David Crossley
David Crossley

Cost, please. You have been continually championing this project, but you have never stated the cost of this project. Any idea?

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

The point is we don't need the 5 acre expansion, nor do we need the 15 acre stadium/convention center expansion. I do agree that the voters should decide on a TOT increase, but this would be shot down by the hotel industry, as they have done before. If they don't control it, then (in their eyes) it can't be good for them, and they will use monies that they could use promoting tourism in San Diego to defeat the measure. And if the current lawsuits against the convention center expansion are eventually upheld (due to the questionable financing plan), then NOTHING will be built in the foreseeable future.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

LPH--If your plan still includes a combination stadium/convention center expansion, it will never be built. Ever.

Jennifer Reiswig
Jennifer Reiswig subscribermember

Any downtown football stadium would have the same impact on downtown hotel nights, connected to the convention center or not. Not to mention, how many hotel nights would really get booked up MONTHS in advance for an October game? I'm not in favor of any publicly-funded stadium downtown but this is just a red herring.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

James Weber--I am asking about LaPlayaHeritage's plan. That is completely different than the city-supported $520 million plan.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

Cost, please. You have been continually championing this project, but you have never stated the cost of this project. Any idea?

Augmented Ballot
Augmented Ballot

The expansion/waterfront should contribute to downtown generally and be a resource for the public. (And it should comply with the law re waterfront access.) The cost to meet that will be greater than the current proposal. I don't think we should be satisfied with a design that saves money -- the absent private funding, in particular -- but only serves conventioneers and the adjacent hotels. I'll look for the specific security concerns in the task force reports.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

The whole point of Public Hearings is to get input into Alternative Projects and Sites, beside the preferred project by the San Diego Convention Center staff, architects, and consultants. Along with the Chargers, our publicly requested Alternative Projects and Sites were not acknowledged in the EIR, let alone analyze in the required CEQA documents. If the public is shut out, then the whole public input process is broken and a sham. At the very least, the Port, the City, and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) should have analyzed the alternatives. Everyone just wasted time based upon flawed legal and management advice. The public should be allowed to vote on the options of a stand alone 5-acre Convention Center Expansion versus a Contiguous 15-acre multi-purpose stadium and Convention Center Expansion on our public Waterfront. Separately, the City of San Diego taxpayers should also be allowed to vote on increasing hotel taxes from 10.5%, to the pre-approved 15.5% for public Infrastructure project only. This would require 2/3 voter approval. The issue of increase TOT could be decided as early as the next City-wide election, after the November 2013 Mayoral Primary. If the public votes No. Then good. If they vote Yes, the a new source of revenue will be available for public infrastructure.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

Our Port Tidelands belong to the People of the State of California. The land would be a contribution from the State to the public. Nothing to do with the City or Port who are just our Tideland Trustees. In 2008, the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC) acquired the Port's Tideland Leaehold from the privateFifth Avenue Landing LLC $14.5+ million to construct and design the needed Convention Center Expansion. http://www.blogofsandiego.com/Waterfront.htm#04/05/10 The Port is using the same dated 1850 construction techniques of dredging and create land on former sludge beds. Prone to liquefaction, permanent deformation, and soil collapse due to Climate Change and increase tide elevations. If our plan for a Structural Cistern Foundation to create a Full Reclamation of out Tidelands is found cost effective, then the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans could analyze our Full Tidelands Reclamation plan to create subterranean waterfront public space for public transportation, utilities, and industrial uses. Pat Flannery - Blog of San Diegohttp://www.blogofsandiego.com/Waterfront.htm#04/05/10Blog of San Diego Independent, in-depth, document-based analysis San Diego's Waterfront 04/15/10 The Mayor's Embarcadero Plan sunk by Cruise Ships . 12/17/10 Broadway Pier - the hard facts behind the soft spin. I will assume that each of my readers a...

David Crossley
David Crossley

I'm not in favor of the stadium downtown at all--privately or publicly funded. An arena on the other hand...(and no, not one built as part of an expanded convention center)

mzvalencia
mzvalencia

Fantasy is the political and industry centric rationale that is being shoved down our throats that the convention center remodel is needed for this city's survival. At least a "multi use" stadium could be leveraged for a wide variety of events and circumstances. Felix get off your butt and learn to walk. Take a look at any great metropolitan area and the ability for people to walk and explore the city is what makes them viable and attractive. Using distance as a reason to down vote a multi use stadium plan in a weather friendly city like San Diego is pathetic.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

Our plan is for taxpayers to pay the same maximum of $575 million for the multi-purpose Stadium/Convention Center Expansion. Although news articles state costs of $525 million, the City Council approved UP TO $575 million for the Convention Center Financing District (CCFD). The $575 million would be used to pay for the land ($0), the Foundation (structural cistern full Reclamation), and any off-site mitigation. www.tinyurl.com/20120606a www.tinyurl.com/20120201 Just like the LA Farmers Field, the remaining costs would be the responsibility of the developer/ Chargers/ NFL / AEG. The costs of the yearly Debt Service for construction of the privately financed multi-purpose stadium structure and stadium operations could be paid through User fees, Federal Build America Construction Bonds, Grants, State and Federal Stimulus Funding, rent payments, a $5 surcharge on every ticket sold, leases from Vendors, Stadium Naming rights, new taxes/fees approved by 2/3 of voters on Rental Cars, Taxi District, Parking, downtown Food and Beverage Sales Tax, business incentives, Business Improvement District (BID) assessments, Enterprise Zones tax savings, NFL Club Seat Waivers, and/or NFL Personal Seat Licenses (PSL). According to news interviews, the Spanos family and the San Diego Chargers have pledge $200 million for construction of a new NFL Stadium in Southern California. In addition, the current NFL Loan program allows football team owners to apply for up to $200 million in additional construction loans. If the Billionaires cannot pay for the multi-purpose Stadium and Event structure by constant use, then the project would not be built. The site on the waterfront is 15 acres in size. Just like Farmers Field in Los Angeles. Therefore the great LA design can be moved to our iconic San Diego Bay Waterfront. http://farmersfield.com/ The privately funded structure would be marketed directly to the NFL owners and players to include an NFL Experience on site, while lobbying the NFL to declare the City of San Diego as their West Coast Headquarters. San Diego would be marketed as a Sports Tourism and Eco-Tourism destination in conjunction with Petco Park.Farmers Field :: Homehttp://farmersfield.com/Farmers Field is coming to Los Angeles! Learn more about the stadium and be the first to get information on tickets.

James Weber
James Weber

$520 million http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/09/18/5-things-to-know-about-the-convention-center-expansion/5 Things to Know about the Convention Center Expansionhttp://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/09/18/5-things-to-know-about-the-convention-center-expansion/A chorus of political and business leaders has recently rallied around a Convention Center expansion years in the making. They say a $520 million investment to expand the city's 24-year-old convention center will bring an economic boost to the city i...

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

The whole point of Public Hearings is to get input into Alternative Projects and Sites, beside the preferred project by the San Diego Convention Center staff, architects, and consultants. Along with the Chargers, our publicly requested Alternative Projects and Sites were not acknowledged in the EIR, let alone analyze in the required CEQA documents. If the public is shut out, then the whole public input process is broken and a sham. At the very least, the Port, the City, and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) should have analyzed the alternatives. Everyone just wasted time based upon flawed legal and management advice. The public should be allowed to vote on the options of a stand alone 5-acre Convention Center Expansion versus a Contiguous 15-acre multi-purpose stadium and Convention Center Expansion on our public Waterfront. Separately, the City of San Diego taxpayers should also be allowed to vote on increasing hotel taxes from 10.5%, to the pre-approved 15.5% for public Infrastructure project only. This would require 2/3 voter approval. The issue of increase TOT could be decided as early as the next City-wide election, after the November 2013 Mayoral Primary. If the public votes No. Then good. If they vote Yes, the a new source of revenue will be available for public infrastructure.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

I'm not in favor of the stadium downtown at all--privately or publicly funded. An arena on the other hand...(and no, not one built as part of an expanded convention center)

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Our plan is for taxpayers to pay the same maximum of $575 million for the multi-purpose Stadium/Convention Center Expansion. Although news articles state costs of $525 million, the City Council approved UP TO $575 million for the Convention Center Financing District (CCFD). The $575 million would be used to pay for the land ($0), the Foundation (structural cistern full Reclamation), and any off-site mitigation. www.tinyurl.com/20120606a www.tinyurl.com/20120201 Just like the LA Farmers Field, the remaining costs would be the responsibility of the developer/ Chargers/ NFL / AEG. The costs of the yearly Debt Service for construction of the privately financed multi-purpose stadium structure and stadium operations could be paid through User fees, Federal Build America Construction Bonds, Grants, State and Federal Stimulus Funding, rent payments, a $5 surcharge on every ticket sold, leases from Vendors, Stadium Naming rights, new taxes/fees approved by 2/3 of voters on Rental Cars, Taxi District, Parking, downtown Food and Beverage Sales Tax, business incentives, Business Improvement District (BID) assessments, Enterprise Zones tax savings, NFL Club Seat Waivers, and/or NFL Personal Seat Licenses (PSL). According to news interviews, the Spanos family and the San Diego Chargers have pledge $200 million for construction of a new NFL Stadium in Southern California. In addition, the current NFL Loan program allows football team owners to apply for up to $200 million in additional construction loans. If the Billionaires cannot pay for the multi-purpose Stadium and Event structure by constant use, then the project would not be built. The site on the waterfront is 15 acres in size. Just like Farmers Field in Los Angeles. Therefore the great LA design can be moved to our iconic San Diego Bay Waterfront. http://farmersfield.com/ The privately funded structure would be marketed directly to the NFL owners and players to include an NFL Experience on site, while lobbying the NFL to declare the City of San Diego as their West Coast Headquarters. San Diego would be marketed as a Sports Tourism and Eco-Tourism destination in conjunction with Petco Park.Farmers Field :: Homehttp://farmersfield.com/Farmers Field is coming to Los Angeles! Learn more about the stadium and be the first to get information on tickets.

James Weber
James Weber subscriber

$520 million http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/09/18/5-things-to-know-about-the-convention-center-expansion/5 Things to Know about the Convention Center Expansionhttp://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/09/18/5-things-to-know-about-the-convention-center-expansion/A chorus of political and business leaders has recently rallied around a Convention Center expansion years in the making. They say a $520 million investment to expand the city's 24-year-old convention center will bring an economic boost to the city i...