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Lisa Halverstadt’s report, The Story Behind the Conflicting Convadium Predictions, provides clear explanations of many of the differences between the HVS and Chargers studies of the impact of the proposed convadium project. These are complicated reports and it is no small task to sort through them. But, some further explanations are needed.
The two studies do not reflect merely disagreements about assumptions but demonstrate significant differences in the quality of the data on which those assumptions are based. The lost convention center business data, on which HVS based its projections, is the most definitive available source of information on potential customers. These are customers who expressed interest in coming to San Diego but did not do so for one reason or another. Through our analysis of the reasons that event planners chose not to come and analysis of their facility and scheduling needs, we assessed whether this known set of potential clients would be able to use the convadium.
The Chargers report, on the other hand, said it focused on potential customers, but their report did not provide a shred of evidence to back up that contention. They did not survey people on their list to assess whether they are interested coming to San Diego. Nor did they present any analysis of the event size and length, space needs and rotational patterns of the groups on their list to determine whether these groups are capable of using the convadium. As Joe Terzi said during a recent debate, San Diego has a stable of about 800 accounts that are interested in coming here. The San Diego Tourism Authority knows them because they have been searching for and talking to them for many years. The list of events that the Chargers study used, which was provided by an unidentified third party, is no substitute for the actual list of potential customers that HVS used.
We also need to call out the Chargers study for inappropriately using spousal attendance to inflate room night estimates. The author tries to brush past this problem by saying that “spousal attendance wasn’t baked into his projections for hotel stays.” To estimate room nights, the Chargers study multiplied total attendance (including spouses) by their assumption of the number of room night stays per attendee (including spouses). Spouses who travel together stay together (except perhaps if they are not getting along). Clearly, inflated attendance numbers generated inflated hotel room night projections. This is why the Chargers study incorrectly estimated that 74,000 people would attend each Chargers game in a stadium that only seats 61,000.
When confronted with complex issues and grinding analysis, it is easy to cop out and dismiss one or both of the studies as politically motivated. You are to be commended for doing the hard work of wading through the details of the studies and sorting out the differences.
Thomas Hazinski is managing director of HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities.