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Convention Center Expansion Talks Under Way

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Aired 5/18/11

Enthusiasm ran high for a possible convention center expansion at San Diego City Council Tuesday.

— Council members frequently referred to San Diego’s Convention Center as an economic engine for the region during today’s discussions. They appeared enthusiastic about the additional revenue that may be generated as a result of the $550 million expansion.

Concept photo of the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.
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Above: Concept photo of the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

Already passionate discussions are emerging about how much of the work would be done by unions. Council President Tony Young encouraged people to keep the goals of the expansion in mind.

“Obviously jobs are important, obviously fairness is important,” he said. “But what’s more important is enhancing this great economic engine that we have here in San Diego, that’s what this is really about.”

Convention Center officials say they turn away a year's worth of business every year because the center is booked.

Plans call for increased hotel taxes to pay for about 75 percent of the cost of construction, which would generate about $30 million a year. The rate would vary from 3 percent to 1 percent depending on how close the hotel is to the Convention Center.

The city’s hotels must vote to okay the hike. The remaining cost would be covered from sources such as redevelopment and taxi fees. Councilman Carl DeMaio stressed the Port of San Diego needs to contribute as well.

“The Port derives revenues based upon leases that have a direct financial interest and connection to the expansion of the Convention Center. The Port derives revenues from the parking underneath the Convention Center,” he said.

It is expected the Port will contribute toward the cost of the expansion. If the project is ultimately approved it’s expected to be completed by July 2015 at the earliest.

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