Author Topic: Convention Centers: How do we compare?  (Read 18367 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Convention Centers: How do we compare?
« on: May 17, 2007, 12:00:00 AM »
Convention Centers: How do we compare?



For years we have been hearing that the Prime Osborn Convention Center is too small, out-dated, and isolated.  Let's see how it stacks up against fourteen convention centers located in other U.S. cities.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/433

skimbro

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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2007, 06:41:53 AM »
You can't look at the pictures without thinking that Jacksonville is way behind most other cities in this category. Aside from the convention center itself, what we really need is parking garages like the one in the picture from Indy. The city ought to require anyone building a new garage to incorporate some kind of retail or office space on the first floor (preferably micro-breweries, as in the picture), so at least people walking down the street can have the illusion that it's a normal building.

It cracked me up that Mobile's convention center looks like a church. God or Mammon? Why not both!

downtownparks

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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2007, 08:05:11 AM »
That is required. The city just doesn't stick by its guns, and either allows a cheesy false facade, or they leave it unfinished, and empty, like they did with the Library garage.

vicupstate

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Great Comparison
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2007, 08:23:29 AM »
The numbers tell it all.  Jax is not even decent competition to much smaller cities.

As an FYI, the Charlotte Hotel is the Westin, which has 700 rooms.
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tufsu1

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Misleading
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2007, 08:50:28 AM »
Let's check a few of these sites again

1. Jacksonville - marketing people would say LaVilla is part of downtown
2. Denver - the center is not on 16th Street and is at the "edge" of downtown
3. Nashville - also what used to be the edge of downtown....stuff built around the new center
4. Savannah - who are you kidding....the center is across the river from the heart of downtown and not accessible for pedestrians (only water taxi)

Pavers

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Pursue what's best for the city, not a "me too" strategy
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2007, 08:59:52 AM »
Here's my issue with this convention center debate.  Yes, the Prime Osborne pales in comparison to that of other cities.  But that's not the relevant comparison or way to frame the issue, in my humble opinion.

A new convention center is going to cost, let's say $200M.  That may be low, that may be high, but let's say it's $200M, and that the building will be "good" for 20 years, before it's obselete and either a major renovation or overhaul will be needed for the center to remain competitive.  

What will be the return on investment on this $200M?  Will new conventions come to town?  How many?  Enough incremental visitors to justify TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS?!?    How long will these visitors come?  When will the new center shift from being state-of-the-art to an also-ran in the convention center world because of new renovations or construction on the part of other cities?  (Take a gander at Alltel/Jax Municipal Stadium - when it was first built, it was THE PREMIER stadium in the NFL; now it's 10-11 years old and middle-of-the-road, and that's after some significant additions and renovations).

Conventions are a hyper-competitive business.  I would wager that many of the centers listed above, while looking nice and sparkly, have turned out to be less than ideal investments.

Here's the way to frame the question, methinks.  If the city found $200M in the basement of city hall, would building a brand new convention center be the BEST investment of this money?  I'm sure the hotels, parking garages, and restauranteers would love it.  And they should.  But would this money be better spent on (pick one or many of the following):  more police, improved park maintenance, more/better roads or transit, more library books, expanded literacy programs, etc., etc.?   How does the "return" on other public goods compare to that of the convention center?

It may be worth a few minutes to google the search term "Heywood Sanders and convention centers."  Sanders is a professor (now at UT-San Antonio, I believe) who has focused a lot of his research on the economics of convention centers and has DISPASSIONATELY examined the long-term impact of the construction and financing of such public buildings.  Just click on the links that pop up and read away.  You'll thank me later.   ;)

With apologies to one of my favorite TV shows, just because Shelbyville has a monorail (or a convention center), doesn't mean that's the best investment for Springfield.  Is a convention center really where the city can generate the best bang-for-the-buck for its limited capital?  I haven't seen that proven yet.  

Steve

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Pavers
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2007, 09:28:59 AM »
I hear your point, but you are assuming that the convention center has to be paid for entirely with public dollars.  There are plenty of examples of Public-Private Relationships when it comes to convention centers.

As far as exonomic impact, I think it would far exceed 200 million - The USS John F Kennedy (before it was decommissioned) brought an economic impact of $300 mill PER YEAR.

Pavers

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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2007, 09:47:02 AM »
Can you point me towards the plenty of examples of public-private partnerships?  I'd be curious to read those.  I am skeptical about how "plentiful" such partnerships are among the centers, but I'm happy to be proved incorrect.

thelakelander

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Misleading? Check out the scaled aerials
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2007, 10:06:23 AM »
Tufsu1, there's no hidden agenda in this article, other than to show a little information, comparing Jax's facility and location with a few randomly selected situations in other cities.  If you don't like the picture that's been painted, feel free to find additional centers, similar informaiton and post them here for discussion.  

Now for the aerials, comparing Jax to the specific cities you mentioned.

Quote
2. Denver - the center is not on 16th Street and is at the "edge" of downtown




First of all, let me say, you're right.  The new convention center is not on 16th Street.  Its on 14th Street, which is just two walking blocks away.  That's not exactly the same distance from the Prime Osborn to Jacksonville's Laura Street, which would be the closest comparable thing we have to 16th Street (which runs through the heart of downtown Denver.)

Quote
3. Nashville - also what used to be the edge of downtown....stuff built around the new center




The aerial suggests you're off base.   The heart of Nashville's CBD is a two block walk to the NW and the Music Row entertainment district/Riverfront is a 3 block walk to the NE.  Also notice in the aerial and Nashville image in the article, the hundred year old urban building fabric that remained in place along Broadway, between the center and Music Row.  That three block walk is lined with bars, restaurants and retail shops, not surface lots.  This is the "connectivity" or "clustering" of complementing uses that stimulate synergy and vibrancy.  That's impossible in LaVilla.

Quote
4. Savannah - who are you kidding....the center is across the river from the heart of downtown and not accessible for pedestrians (only water taxi)




No kidding going on here, the Savannah Convention Center is on the downtown riverfront and is clearly visually impacting and within close proximity to the waterfront's tourist district, via water taxi.  This would be comparable to building a new center on the Southbank.

Quote
1. Jacksonville - marketing people would say LaVilla is part of downtown




Here's Jax's aerial, at the same scale.  You can't even see the Northbank's towers in this view.  Also notice the highlighted parcels surrounding the Prime Osborn.  Even if we had the money and market to add hotels, restaurants and other complementing uses nearby, most of the adjacent land is already accounted for and won't be apart of the process.   Its simple.  Expand at the site, without seriously considering the idea of connectivity and how complementing uses affect convention centers and don't be suprised if business doesn't increase, as some would believe.

Nevertheless, I'd say the information is far from misleading.  The aerials show the real deal.  Maybe it's about time we accept we have serious problems and just adding a big box in the surface lot next door, may not be the answer or most affordable solution in this highly competitive industry.
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Richard Bowers

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Prime Osborn would be more competitive
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2007, 10:55:00 AM »
If we had a hotel directly connected, and of course, this has been discussed for the twenty years the Prime Osborn has been open. Will there be another site chosen, probably, but if the same effort is made to build a new center that is being made to build a new courthouse, it will be 2025 before we are competitive.


thelakelander

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Can we support another +400 room hotel downtown?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2007, 11:07:48 AM »
Is there really a market for a +400 room convention center hotel in La Villa, with the 966 room Hyatt already operating downtown?  Just over the past year, the proposed Courtyard by Marriott (San Marco Village), has been put on ice and Riverwatch dropped it's hotel component for residential condos.  Hilton may be ready to build two on the Southbank, but those will cater to a lower market.  Convention Center's aren't open every day, so the hotel would have to rely on more than the convention center business.  For too long, we've made important decisions on issues, such as this, without even considering the impact of the site's immediate surroudings.  This has created a core, that despite billions of re-investment dollars poured into it, little pedestrian activity and synergy has come of it.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

vicupstate

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Excellent article, and excellent reply Lake
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2007, 12:11:44 PM »
There have been economic impact studies of a larger Convention Center, and the numbers are huge.  Jax can only compete for 7% of all conventions currently.  That's pretty telling.  

You have to understand that Convention Centers  in and of THEMSELVES don't make money.  There are fees charged for the use of the center, and they don't begin to pay the service on a debt that large.  BUT, the money the visitors spend would be taxed.  There would be sales taxes, room taxes.  The hotels and restaurants that would sprout up around a center (because the ADDED revenue made the respective business plans work) would pay business licenses and property taxes.  The airport would see greater activity which would encourage more carriers, flights, etc.  

And THEN there is the private money made by hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues.  Venues that might not even open without the ADDED revenue from conventioneers.   These entitites in turn spend that money buying supplies, equipment and hiring.

Some of these visitors might return, or even move a business here.  How many of you got your first exposure to a city from going to a convention?    

The cost is high, but if there was no pay-off, would there really be so many players in the business?  If a business (in a competitive industry at that) still had the decor and business equipment that it did in 1987, would you still patronize it, or would you likely find somewhere else?  

It's like  a businessman saying "I will never buy a computer, because it will be obsolete in a year".   His competitor will buy a computer, and eventually another one in a few  years, and they will STAY in business.
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tufsu1

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Good Aerials...but...
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2007, 01:21:57 PM »
Try putting the Prime Osborn at the left edge of the Jax aerial.....then see what shows up at the right edge....could that be downtown?

As for Nashville.....prior to the arena and convention center opening, Broadway was the southern edge of downtown and was quite a scary place day or night

And Savannah....it would be comparable to the Southbank here except for one thing....there's no bridge for cars or people nearby....taking a water taxi ride is similar to riding the Skyway (and probably more expensive)...so what's the difference?

thelakelander

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Prime Osborn + No Connectivity = Failure
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2007, 03:32:49 PM »

Quote
Try putting the Prime Osborn at the left edge of the Jax aerial.....then see what shows up at the right edge....could that be downtown?


You can shift the image all you want, but in reality it's still a SEVEN block walk (all seven blocks lined, with surface lots and parking garages), until you reach the downtown core (Omni Hotel/Times-Union Center).  That's a huge problem that these other places don't have to deal with and that we need to focus on just as much as how much additional meeting space the Prime Osborn needs.  To not consider how the center integrates with the adjacent areas, will only lead to the development of a substandard center.

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As for Nashville.....prior to the arena and convention center opening, Broadway was the southern edge of downtown and was quite a scary place day or night


There are two important factors being overlooked.

1. Edge or not, its only a TWO block walk from the heart of downtown Nashville.  The Prime Osborn is SEVEN blocks, all lined with surface lots and garages, instead of retail shops.

2. Broadway may have been scary, but it had historic buildings still lining the street and in place.  This allowed for the complementing support uses (restaurants, bars, retail, etc.) to set up shop nearby, creating an adjacent center of entertainment oriented activity.  

Its much easier to lease an existing storefront and open a business in it, then to purchase parking lots (many of which in our case, aren't for sell), get construction financing and build a space from scratch.  That's just flat out reality and one of the reasons this site is so passionate about saving our historic building stock.  Nashville is a great example of what can happen when that stuff is left in place instead of being bulldozed like the area around the Prime Osborn.

Quote
And Savannah....it would be comparable to the Southbank here except for one thing....there's no bridge for cars or people nearby....taking a water taxi ride is similar to riding the Skyway (and probably more expensive)...so what's the difference?


Visibility!  Ever see the views from both spots in person?  It may be separated by the river, but that's still a superior location than a substandard center separated by  SEVEN blocks of urban prairie land and parking garages.  Taking the water taxi, a short distance, from the center to the heart of Savannah's entertainment and dining district is good part of the Savannah experience.  Can't say the same thing right now about taking the skyway over SEVEN blocks of surface parking lots and garages, into Central Station, which is still not the heart of downtown's most vibrant spots.



Broadway Street in Nashville, connects the convention center with Music Row and the downtown riverfront.  Unlike Bay Street, its three blocks of complementing entertainment oriented businesses along the way.  This is impossible to do with the Prime Osborn because.....there are no buildings left for these places to open up into.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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What about the tiny places... Even THEY are better????
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2007, 08:41:10 PM »
No photos here, just more bad news for US vs THEM... I decided to take a look at those NOT so common places around the country. There are 100's of them too! EVEN THEY make us pale. We have a HELL of a LONG WAY to go just to pull even with tiny out of the way places! READ ON:

BRANSON MISSOURI (Okay, so it has some tourism, but it is about the size of Green Cove Springs! )

The Branson Convention Center will offer 220,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including two exhibit halls totaling 50,000 square feet, which connects to a 23,000 square foot ballroom. There are also second floor meeting rooms.  The convention center will offer a wide range of services, including complete onsite catering, top tier audio visual services, Internet, event management, business center and a single point of contact for all services.  The convention center will also connect directly to the Hilton Branson Convention Hotel, a 12-story luxury hotel with 290 rooms and suites.

RAPID CITY, SD, In the middle of about 500 miles of NOTHING called the Badlands... Not  that Rapid City is bad, in fact it is beautiful if tiny... and Colder then a Witches tits in a brass bra too!

Located in the center of Rapid City, the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center offers the very finest in meeting facilities. Surrounded by seven acres of park, delegates are welcomed to the complex by a quiet lake just a short stroll from the facility. Inside the Civic Center you will find a 10,000 seat arena; a 1,752-seat theatre; 150,000 sq. ft. of exhibit and meeting space; and complete support facilities for food services, staging, sound, light and all necessary accouterments to make your meeting a success. Outside there are 3,000 free parking spaces, giving you and your members convenient access to the Civic Center.

Oh there are some mountains nearby, but we could say there is a RIVER and BEACHES and better WEATHER and a MOUSE nearby... any more excuses?

The Knoxville Convention Center captures the essence of this beautiful region in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. While you enjoy breathtaking scenery, the center’s staff will deliver great service and convenience in a technologically advanced facility. The Knoxville Convention Center, a half million square feet of space, reflects the alluring environment of the area. The spacious concourse designs present exquisite views of Knoxville and the delightfully landscaped World’s Fair Park. A natural theme reflecting the majesty of the mountains is carried throughout the interior design creating a calming atmosphere. Please browse our website and send us an email or call us to book your next event.

This one is really competition in OUR LEAGUE... The Nations 12TH largest City vs Columbus, Georgia! They too, rip us a new one! and that mouse isn't that far either.

Give your next meeting a historical look at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center, located in the Historic Columbus Iron Works. You’ll enjoy all the history and heritage of old Georgia combined with 200,000 sq. ft. of modern amenities within this recently restored local landmark. Situated on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the Center offers a unique setting for meetings and conferences. The Trade Center is centrally located in downtown Columbus, which gives you access to first-class sleeping accommodations, restaurants and entertaining nightlife

Well we have a Hockey team that plays the "Fire Ants" and we have a Convention Center about half the size of the one in GREENVILLE SC! Where is Greenville SC?

The Carolina First Center, formerly Palmetto Expo Center, is one of the nation's largest convention and meeting facilities with more than 315,000 square feet of exhibit space and 88,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. With a $22 million enhancement plan underway, the Carolina First Center will continue to offer unbeatable flexibility and value to groups who are looking to expand their event.
Carolina First Center is a popular regional destination for corporate meetings, tradeshows, banquets, and special events. A strong area manufacturing economy, particularly in automotive services, has helped make Greenville an attractive site for related activities.

JACKSONVILLE LEADERSHIP? TIME TO PULL YOUR HEADS OUT!

Damn
Ocklawaha