Out of Control Policy Blog

Big Box Boondoggles

From Philly:

    Gov. Rendell yesterday released the first $50 million in state funds needed to begin a long-awaited $632 million expansion of the Convention Center ...

    The expansion plan, which was unveiled more than six years ago, calls for adding almost 300,000 square feet of exhibit space to the 440,000 square feet in the building now...

    Dozens of buildings, most of them occupied by offices and apartments, will have to be acquired and demolished to make way for construction.

And just how will those buildings be "acquired"?

The names change, but the same old story surfaces in city after city:

    Philadelphia political leaders and hospitality officials are convinced that a larger building can attract dozens of groups that now cannot fit their conventions in the center. Although some studies [You mean like this one?] indicate an overabundance of convention centers nationwide, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau contends that a larger building will help the city draw more shows and meetings than it has now...

There are more promising developments in Detroit:

    High-ranking Detroit officials are meeting with a Las Vegas casino and convention center operator to discuss taking over and expanding Cobo Center...

After they fall for the convention center boondoggle, cities can turn to private management to decrease the financial drag. In fact, private stadium management turns out to be quite satisfying.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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