Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baltimore Convention Center Looking to Expand

Baltimore Convention CenterIt must be a new trend in the world of convention centers because, like so many other big city convention centers, the Baltimore Convention Center is planning to expand. This center has some other motives aside from just having a bigger area for conventions. The main industry in Baltimore is tourism. Places like the Baltimore Convention Center, along with others like Harborplace, the Baltimore Aquarium, the Science Center and the home field of the Baltimore Orioles, are just a few places that really drive tourism in the city.

This new expansion to the convention center could help bring in more than $1.1 billion in annual local, state and federal tax revenues as well as create 74,000 jobs. The Baltimore Convention Center is currently the 73rd largest convention center in the country. Without expanding, the center will be unable to accommodate larger groups, host multiple conventions simultaneously or increase the demand for hotels throughout the city.

The Baltimore Convention Center's plans for expansion are not without their fair share of critics. People against the expansion are talking about down convention attendance during our country's economic slump. However, despite the current financial situation of our country, the Baltimore Convention Center was able to book 2% more hotel rooms in 2009 than in 2008 and 11.5% more in 2010 than in 2009.

Baltimore is also the recipient of a rare opportunity when it comes to expansions. Businessman Willard Hackerman has already committed to assemble private financing for half the cost of the project. The project is to not only expand on the convention center but to also build a new sports arena in the city. This is said to attract more sporting events, concerts and large religious and political conventions, among other things.

It is still unclear whether or not the expansion will happen, but the benefits are definitely there. All the people of Baltimore have to do is see how other expansions have boosted the local economy for those areas to see what an expansion to the Baltimore Convention Center has the potential to do.

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Source: The Baltimore Sun - Baltimore Convention Center Expansion: A real opportunity for downtown

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