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J Magazine Fall 2017

The magazine of the rebirth of Jacksonville's downtown

SPECIAL REPORT For

SPECIAL REPORT For today’s JacksonvillE, bringing purposeful people from all over to work creatively together would bring new life and spirit to Downtown. Conventioneers would put feet on the street and fannies in the seats not only in hotels, bars and restaurants but also in our handy and substantial arts, culture and sports venues within walking or Skyway distance. More than that, you and I know that, if Jacksonville has any sort of brand nationally, it’s as the first half of the name of an NFL team. “Jacksonville?” we hear when travelling, “where’s that?” But when they actually visit, they tend to want to stay, as many of us did. A convention center, said Gino Caliendo, general manager of the Hyatt Regency, “would open the market up and bring more national exposure to Jacksonville. They’d come here and see what we have and say ‘I want to come back for vacation. Jacksonville has the beach, the golf, the TPC ... ’” Paul Astleford, Visit Jacksonville president and CEO and a hospitality-industry veteran, said, “Cities that know the value of convention centers and trade shows know it goes far beyond the dollars spent at the meetings. The exposure is hugely influential for economic development and growth — people who want to move here, bring their business here, and so forth.” “When we go around the country selling The Players or football, we need a package, and that package is incomplete if the city does not have a convention center,” Rick Catlett, president and CEO of the JaxSports Council, was quoted as saying at the Jacksonville Business Journal Business of Sports Summit. “If you don’t have that element with hotels and a great stadium, we can’t get events here. If we do not invest in a convention center, we will keep taxes low and be happy, but we will be limited in what the city is able to do.” “It would put Jacksonville on the map,” said Ginny Myrick, a local economic-development consultant. “It would bring a Downtown after-hours presence, and hundreds and hundreds of people would be employed, people who would live Downtown in workforce housing.” “It would change the landscape for us Downtown,” said Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority and |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Top 5 Convention CenterS in the U.S. Each year MeetingSource.com ranks the nation’s top convention centers using data from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) and the Institute of Business Travel Management. 1. CHICAGO: McCormick Place Located along Lake Michigan, McCormick Place attracts close to 3 million visitors each year and is also the largest convention center in the U.S. Exhibit hall floor: 2,670,000 sq. ft. 2. Las Vegas: Las Vegas Convention Center This state-of-the-art facility, totals more than 3.2 million sq ft and exceeds even the highest standards in Vegas. Exhibit hall floor: 1,940,631 sq. ft. 3. WASHINGTON, D.C.: Washington Convention Center A relatively new convention center, the attractions nearby make this a popular convention destination. Exhibit hall floor: 703,000 sq. ft. 4. ORLANDO: Orange County Convention Center Orlando is a leader in the tradeshow industry, and whatever you can dream up for your next meeting, you can probably make it happen there. Exhibit hall floor: 2,100,000 sq. ft. 5. ATLANTA: Georgia International Convention Center The world’s only convention center directly connected to a major airport, GICC also features Georgia’s largest ballroom at 40,000 sq. ft. Exhibit hall floor: 150,000 sq. ft. 30 J MAGAZINE | FALL 2017 SOURCE: meetingsource.com

‘‘ right convention center built at the right time Cities that know the VALUE Of convention centers and trade shows know it goes far beyond the dollars spent at the meetings.” PAUL ASTLEFORD Visit Jacksonville president and CEO the person most specifically responsible for revitalization. More specifically, in that new study, the Strategic Advisory Group figured that the — note those qualifications — could deliver $3.52 in economic impact for every $1 invested in debt service and operating-cost subsidy. But Jacksonville would be buying into intense intercity competition. “There are rivalries between cities for the best sports team, snack food, even slogan. But the most cutthroat competition might be one local residents barely ever notice: the bruising, toothand-nail fight to host conventions and other big special events,” Amanda Erickson wrote five years ago in a CityLab article titled “Is It Time to Stop Building Convention Centers?” She quoted Christopher Leinberger, a fellow in the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, as saying too many people bought into the same vision at the same time. “So many were saying, ‘All you have to do is get 1 percent of the national market and you’ll do just fine.’ Three hundred cities bought the same logic. “You need to look very carefully before building another convention center in this country.” Sanders, in his “Convention Center Follies,” said consultants may claim a long-term history of demand for convention-center space, but actual demand fluctuates with the national economy, plunging after 9/11 and the Great Recession. Current data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research show that conventions and trade shows rebounded quickly after the recession in events, attendees and spending but have leveled off with modest growth. IACC, an international association of small- to medium-sized conference venues, also reports growth: “As the meetings industry continues its recovery for the fourth year, IACC is seeing increased investment in newbuild, meetings-focused venues as well as capital investment in existing venues looking to be at the forefront of meetings innovation.” Sanders cautioned, “The reality of far more limited growth, even in the face of a continuing expansion of supply, is that the convention market appeared to be increasingly zero-sum.” So a Jacksonville convention center would plunge into immediate and intense competition to take business away from other cities — not the national powers like Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando or what Sanders calls “prime visitor destinations” like Boston and San Francisco, but rather regional cities like Tampa, Charlotte, Baltimore or Dallas. So if we built a fancy new convention center, how would we compete? “First of all, it’s the destination,” said Brad Mayne, president and CEO of the International Association of Venue Managers. “Our annual conference this year is in Nashville, A tech conference attendee finds a quite place to work on his computer at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.