A couple things that I wanted to flesh out from my interview with Convention Center Corp. CEO Carol Wallace.
Midway through our interview, Wallace referred to a document on possible lost business should the city not expand the convention center. It lists four categories of conventions that would not come to San Diego without an expanded convention center. We printed Wallace’s comments on the first category: events that may cancel future rotations without expansion. For full context, the other categories are events that have booked in San Diego but cannot return without expansion (AARP), annual events that may discontinue future shows (Comic-Con) and events that could consider San Diego for shows only if it expands (American Heart Association). The projected economic impact of all 30 events listed in the four categories is a staggering $2.7 billion.
The Convention Center Corp. presented the analysis in March in response to a question from The Mayor’s Citizen Task Force On The San Diego Convention Center Project .
Wallace and I also had a back and forth over costs for the previous convention center expansion. On that project, cost projections increased from $140 million in April 1994 to $216 million four years later. Wallace said the expansion came in “on budget” so I attempted to clarify what that meant and see if similar cost increases could affect the current expansion. Here’s the exchange:
Can you talk about whether you expect to see any fluctuations in the price tag (for the new convention center expansion) and how that would come about?
Actually, we don’t. If anything, it’s down. We would do a design-build process and that’s the way we did the second (expansion) … Anybody who bids on that contract understands that if the costs go up they eat those costs. If you look at the phase two expansion it was a design-build process, $216 million, we came in on budget.
But the $216 million for last time, that had increased from somewhere around $170 million or $180 million. I know there were changes to the design, but certainly the $216 million was more than was originally planned.
However, what happened was we had a designed building and then we started going through the (Environmental Impact Report) process and the Coastal Commission. We identified things that needed to be mitigated then we added those things onto the project to build.
Who’s to say something like that might not happen again?
I have to say it may. I don’t think it will … From having been there, done that a couple of times now. Having reached out and talked to consultants, Coastal Commission. Looking at the things we’re going to need to mitigate, we’re trying to build those into the project already. They’re already built into the project. Before they were not.
So you don’t expect a similar thing to happen?
I don’t expect a similar thing to happen this time.