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City Council To Vote On 4-Year ConVis Contract

A proposed four-year contract for the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau to provide sales and marketing services for the Convention Center was forwarded today by the Economic Development and Services Committee to the full City Council for final approval.

ConVis would try to attract large organizations that book national meetings and trade shows several years in advance. The shift in marketing responsibilities is part of a planned expansion of the center designed to make San Diego more appealing for organizers of big shows.

"We do have a phenomenal facility and this is all about -- in my opinion -- keeping it that way and making sure that for years to come we attract the large convention groups -- every size of convention group -- to keep it operating the best we can,'' Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

All convention marketing had previously been handled by center staff, but tourism officials have complained about inconsistency -- big shows mixed with dead periods. However, figures provided by the center show that hotel room nights generated by meetings at the facility had nearly returned to pre-recession levels by the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The Convention Center Corp. would pay ConVis $1.9 million for the marketing services in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Future payment amounts would be negotiated. The contract would run until June 30, 2016, with an option to extend for two more years.

The $520 million expansion project at the Convention Center could begin as soon as the end of this calendar year, funded in part by an increase in taxes charged to hotel guests. When complete, the facility would increase in size by 961,187 square feet to 2.75 million square feet of floor space.

A consultant's study says a larger building could bring 25 additional large conventions annually, with attendees spending an additional $121 million to stay at local hotels.

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