Turns out a prominent skeptic of convention center expansions will address the task force studying whether to expand San Diego’s center after all.

Last month, I wrote about people questioning why the Convention Center panel wasn’t hearing from critics such as Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has authored reports questioning the rationale behind expansions.

Since then Sanders has been scheduled to speak to the group when it meets next week.

Convention Center spokesman Steven Johnson said some task force members had asked for a more critical point of view on the expansion, and a few asked specifically for Sanders after he was quoted in articles in the Reader and the Union-Tribune.

Sanders has received the San Diego center’s financial information dating back to 2000. Given the short time frame, Sanders said he won’t be able to do an in-depth financial analysis.

One of the interesting things about convention center expansions is that cities will typically hire consultants for pricey studies, he said. “What we rarely see is independent efforts to address those studies,” Sanders said.

His presentation hasn’t been finalized but he expects to discuss the present market for convention center business and the experiences that other cities have had expanding their facilities.

The task force meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the San Diego State University’s Cox Arena in the Mezzanine Suite.

Update: Johnson informed me there’s a possibility SDSU will be closed on Tuesday if it turns out a case of suspected swine flu is indeed swine flu. In that case, the meeting will be held at the Convention Center. You can check the task force’s website to see if that changes.


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