Convention Legislation, What’s Your Function

I guess “convention legislation” doesn’t work as well as “conjunction junction”, although debate around the expansion of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center does seem to have a lot of “and,” but,” and “or” attached to it.

On this blog, we have to be careful about taking a stand on individual legislation, but I think it would be useful to lay out all the various pros and cons that are flying around on this issue. Let’s see:

Pro: “The current convention center is too small. It’s losing out on being able to attract large national and international conventions. And some of its regular users growing too big to continue.”
Con: “The convention center isn’t even filling its existing space, so how is it going to fill double that.”
Response: “Maybe the declining usage of the facility is because of the lack of sufficient exhibition space.”

The Market
Pro: “Seattle is a desirable location and feasibility studies show that the market is there to fill it.”
Con: “Other cities have built expanded convention centers, and it hasn’t worked out. And now there’s a glut of big convention centers everywhere. We don’t need to add to the overstock.”
Response: “Just because someone else built a large facility without a market for it, doesn’t meant that would be true here. And even with an expansion, the WSCTC would only be mid-sized.”

The Region
Pro: “The better the WSCTC does, everybody wins. More conventions, more convention spending, a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Con: “Hey, what about Lynnwood, Tacoma, Meydenbauer, etc.!”
Response: “If the WSCTC isn’t able to compete for national and international conventions, it’s going to need to attract more local business…in direct competition with the above.”

Pro: “This could be paid for through the Convention Center’s existing revenue streams.”
Con: Either “I don’t believe that would be enough money” or “There are other uses for that money.”
Response: To the first, “Let’s have someone objective do the math and see.” To the second, “Maybe, but the primary purpose for the money has always been the WSCTC.”

The Economy
Pro: “I’ve got your shovel-ready stimulus right here, baby!”
Con: “The state’s general fund is $7 billion short, and we have other priorities.”
Response: See Cost responses above.

Anyway, just some objective reporting about what’s being said on both sides of the debate.


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