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Port Approves Environmental Report For Convention Center Expansion

An environmental impact report on the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and an associated hotel project was approved unanimously today by the commissioners of the Port of San Diego.

The $520 million project will give San Diego the largest contiguous meeting space on the West Coast when it's completed.

Tourism experts believe San Diego is losing out on 25 major trade shows annually, because competing cities can offer more room. The loss works out to $121 million annually in additional hotel room night income, according to a consultant's study.

The project will give the convention center 2.75 million square feet of floor space.

"Expanding the Convention Center will help to protect our economy, as well as attract new businesses and visitors, support a flourishing travel and tourism industry, and stimulate job growth in our region,'' said Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Today's approvals are an important step in the right direction.''

The bulk of the expansion will be paid for by increasing hotel room taxes.

Downtown hotels, which will benefit the most from the expansion, will add a 3 percent levy on room bills. Hotels around Mission Valley and Mission Bay will charge an extra 2 percent and outlying hotels will add 1 percent.

City officials hope construction will start by the end of this year, or early next year.

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