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Space Available: The Realities of Convention Centers as Economic Development Strategy
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Published January 2005
Author Heywood Sanders
Source The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program
URL Click here to view the full document
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To cities, the lure of the convention business has long been the prospect of visitors emptying their wallets on meals, lodging, and entertainment, helping to rejuvenate ailing downtowns. This examination of the convention business and city and state spending on host venues finds that:

-- The overall convention marketplace is declining in a manner that suggests that a recovery or turnaround is unlikely to yield much increased business for any given community, contrary to repeated industry projections.

-- Nonetheless, localities, sometimes with state assistance, have continued a type of arms race with competing cities to host these events, investing massive amounts of capital in new convention center construction and expansion of existing facilities.

-- Faced with increased competition, many cities spend more money on additional convention amenities, like publicly financed hotels to serve as convention "headquarters."

   
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