Study: City Should Pursue Contiguous Expansion of San Diego Convention Center

A contiguous expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is preferred by the center’s clients and stakeholders and also provides the greatest return on investment for the City of San Diego, according to a new study by Conventions, Sports and Leisure International (CSL).

The study analyzed the financial and economic value of expanding the convention center with contiguous exhibit space as well as an expansion several blocks from the current facility characterized as non-contiguous or a “campus” option.

While the contiguous expansion was deemed superior, the study found that the City would also benefit from additional meeting and exhibit space from a non-contiguous expansion.  “From an impact return perspective, the City should continue to pursue the contiguous option as opposed to a significant investment in a publicly-owned convention center located several blocks from the existing SDCC,” said John Kaatz, the study author.

In addition to pursuing the contiguous expansion of the current SDCC, Kaatz said the City should consider some type of support for a development of a largely privately-led hotel and convention project on or near the site currently identified for the campus option.”  “The strength of the San Diego market for mid-sized conventions, as well as the importance of securing additional headquarter hotel inventory, suggests that multiple projects designed to maintain and enhance the competitive position of the San Diego market could be pursued.”

The study analyzed the current state of the convention and meetings industry and San Diego’s market position within the industry as well as the various expansion options, including:

  • Option A: The contiguous option included an addition of 210,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting space and a new 55,000-square-foot ballroom connected to the current convention center. 
  • Option B: The campus option included analysis of a 225,000-square-foot exhibit hall on one level.
  • Option C: A campus design that stacked the exhibit halls on two levels each with an additional 80,000 square feet of meeting space and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom. While Option C would fit on the current Tailgate Park location it was largely rejected by clients as unworkable. 

"Expanding the convention center will create new jobs for San Diegans and provide a huge economic benefit to our region. This study reaffirms that the contiguous expansion is the ideal approach for the most immediate impact, and provides the best return on investment," said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. "It's time to expand the convention center. My administration will begin talks with the tourism industry, City Council and other stakeholders to lay the groundwork for moving forward with the contiguous project in 2016 if the City prevails in court. The campus expansion and accompanying hotel would also bring economic benefits for the city that we will continue to explore."

Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on August 31, 2015
Attendees, Expansion, Meeting Planners

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