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Various Authors 11:01 a.m., Dec. 10
Heywood Sanders, professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and generally considered the ranking expert on convention centers, says he has been "misrepresented" in the San Diego Convention Center Task Force's annual report that has just been issued. Sanders has consistently stated that convention centers are vastly overbuilt and draining the cities that subsidize them. In fact, that is what he told the task force in May. Yet the report quotes him saying that past and potential customers have expressed interest in an expanded San Diego center; the center is operating at or above potential maximum potential; the center is losing business because of lack of space and dates, and there is risk of outgrowing the center. It picks up quotes that he made five years ago. Completely missing is the substance of his May report, he points out: the warnings about national overbuilding, financing problems, and in particular, his skepticism about statistics that come out of the convention center. Throughout the study, "There is stuff that so misrepresents reality it is appalling," says Sanders. The task force chooses the statistics that fit its purposes and ignores those that draw a picture of reality, says Sanders. "These are middle school games."
Of course, any sophisticated San Diegan knew this was coming. Every member of the task force except one is a cheerleader for corporate welfare -- heavily representing the tourism and real estate development industries.
At my request, Sanders will spend more time reading the study. I will call him Sunday for his analysis and post it on the blog that day.