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Convention Center Hopes To Replace Its Rooftop Sails

San Diego Convention Center staff are developing plans to replace the iconic sails atop the bayfront facility, a Convention Center Corp. director said today.

The sails are 20 years old -- two years past their useful life, according to director Steve Cushman.

"It's holding up fine at this point but, obviously, if you get a major windstorm it could be a big issue,'' Cushman told City News Service.

He said the cost of replacing the sails, which give the building its unique appearance, has been pegged at around $11.3 million.

The staff is coming up with alternatives for financing and replacing the sails and will make a presentation at an upcoming meeting of the center's board of directors, he said.

He told the San Diego City Council that the corporation has assigned $2.6 million in this fiscal year to deal with around $20 million in deferred maintenance projects -- of which the sails are the major portion.

The remainder is what he calls normal maintenance items for such a facility, like new carpets and restroom improvements.

"This is not something we can sweep under the rug,'' Cushman said.

He also told the council members that the corporation was going to try to rebuild its reserve account, which dipped to zero in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The City Council passed amendments to an agreement between the Convention Center Corp. and Convention and Visitors Bureau that will allow ConVis to market the facility for organizations that schedule major meetings more than 18 months in advance.

The amendments passed on a 5-2 vote, with council members David Alvarez and Marti Emerald dissenting.

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