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Just took a quick run through the draft final report produced by The Mayor’s Citizen Task Force On The San Diego Convention Center Project. Here are the highlights, along with some of my analysis.

  • There are no surprises in the report. It recommends the city expand the Convention Center by almost 200,000 square feet of exhibition space if Mayor Jerry Sanders can find the $750 million-plus needed to do so. The reasons given are that an expanded Convention Center will provide significant economic impact and create new jobs.
  • One thing that did strike me was the amount of ink spilt on Heywood Sanders, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a critic of expanding convention centers. His name is mentioned 12 times in the report (more than Mayor Jerry Sanders) and nearly all the comments were disparaging.
  • A good stat that I missed in my Convention Center primer story: The Convention Center’s primary consultant estimates an expansion will add 13 national or state conventions or tradeshows to the Convention Center by 2016.
  • A key claim in the report is that of the 100 major conventions that either currently max out San Diego’s Convention Center or are too large, booking just three to five of these events annually will make an expansion an economic success.
  • The task force makes no recommendation on a 500-room hotel, which was proposed as part of the project. “The Task Force has not determined whether or not construction of a hotel is essential for the success of the expanded convention center,” the report says.
  • As expected, the report makes no recommendations on the expansion’s financing. It lists various potential funding sources, such as increased hotel room taxes and special districts, but “makes no representations to the accuracy of these revenue assumptions.” The report also lists the Port of San Diego, Centre City Development Corp. and San Diego County as possible revenue sources, even though the Port and CCDC have said they can’t pay and no one has approached the county.
  • Last, the report makes a brief mention of “opportunity costs,” namely whether the city should spend $750 million on expanding the Convention Center versus other economic development opportunities.

If you want more, Scott Lewis has written extensively on this issue.

The 17-member task force is scheduled to vote on this report during its final meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Barrio Logan.

— LIAM DILLON

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