Nearing the end of its eight-month charge to examine expanding San Diego’s convention center, the Mayor’s Citizen Task Force On The San Diego Convention Center Project appears to have reached some conclusions.
First: Yes, expanding the Convention Center — at an estimated cost of $750 million — is a good idea. But the 17-member task force spent much of its meeting Tuesday evening fleeing from the elephant in the room: Who will pay?
Things became so dire during the two-hour session at the Convention Center that Task Force Co-Chairman and Port Commission Chairman Stephen Cushman at one point told the various public entities to “man up” and agree to include their names as possible funding sources in the commission’s report.
To which, task force member and Centre City Development Corp. Chairman Fred Maas replied he’d OK his organization’s appearance on the list, “in the spirit of testing my manliness.”
So CCDC will be there, as will the Port, though Maas and Cushman repeated their opposition to their organizations paying.
The rationale, task force members explained, is to name all the organizations that could benefit economically from an expanded convention center as possible funding sources. San Diego County Taxpayers Association President and CEO Lani Lutar suggested adding San Diego County to the list, though no one has approached the county for money.
Tuesday night, the task force also downplayed one of the controversial aspects of a proposed expansion: a publicly owned hotel. Task force members fretted over an estimated nearly $9 million in profit gained from a hotel, and decided to leave a dollar-figure off a potential revenue chart.
Proponents of expanding the convention center have cited increasing competition from new or expanded convention centers and the chance to fatten city and business revenues in their support. A spokesman for Comic-Con, one of San Diego’s largest conventions, supports an expansion.
Near the end of the meeting, the task force agreed to recommend an expansion of the convention center, but not before tightening what one committee member called the statement’s “Aristotelian logic.”
Mayor Jerry Sanders, the task force statement reads, should move forward on a convention center expansion IF he first defines the project’s scope and second identifies the project’s revenue and financing.
The task force’s final scheduled meeting, where it is expected to ratify a recommendation, is from 4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 31 at Barrio Station.
My colleague Scott Lewis wrote about the convention center task force this morning and linked to primary source documents. He asked for feedback. Copy firstname.lastname@example.org on those e-mails, too.