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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Conference Alignment

September 23, 2013

The expansion of the San Diego Convention Center has been front and center across the region, with everybody from sports fans to politicians expressing their views on the project.  With years of legwork done on the expansion’s behalf, the planned contiguous expansion promises to be a waterfront asset with public space as its focal point. When complete, the expanded San Diego Convention Center will create $700 million in economic impact and $13 million in additional hotel tax revenue.

Of course, keeping the Chargers in San Diego is a priority, but this is not seen as an either-or situation. San Diego can have a world-class convention center and a world-class football stadium. It would be a service to our economy and community to have both. The majority of San Diegans have worked hard to get to a place where we’re on the same page about the fate of the contiguous expansion. We need to move forward now. We need to show potential conference visitors and the rest of the world what we already know: San Diego is a great place to live and work.

For starters, we can take a look at the medical conventions hosted at the San Diego Convention Center. With six medical conventions slated for Fall 2013, the industry brings a reported $293.3 million in economic impact. Hands down, Comic-Con has the largest economic impact of any conference in San Diego. As Convention Center expansion proponents note, it is essential not only for economic impact, but also for maintaining the region’s cultural foothold. However, the Society for Neuroscience will bring 32,000 attendees and generate more than $131.9 million in economic impact. That’s nearly 75 percent of Comic-Con’s impact, with only a quarter of the number of attendees. Compounded with the region’s strong life sciences research – thanks to Sanford Burnham and others - and strong healthcare facilities, it would be hard to argue that these are not the exact type of people we want to attract to the region. Conferences are one way to get them here and we cannot delay the process any longer.

Every year, there is a plethora of conferences that San Diego cannot host simply because we do not have the capacity.  Our convention center business is already booming, but as conference organizers continuously expand, we cannot rest on our laurels any longer that our nice weather will bring people here. Yes, it helps but we need the capacity. The airport’s new Green Build just added 10 additional gates and numerous commercial opportunities. The expanded San Diego Central Library is slated to open next week. Now the convention center needs to follow suit.

Build it and they – the talent, the conferences, the investors -will come.

Now we’ll let the infographic do the rest of the talking