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"From Boston to Austin, politicians spend money on fancy white elephants," says the Wall Street Journal in a piece dated Dec. 31. The Journal gives some compelling numbers: in 2010, the nation's convention centers had 86 million attendees. That compares with 126 million in 2000. In that period, the amount of convention space zoomed to 70 million square feet from 53 million square feet. "Optimistic projections about new facilities fail to account for how other cities are expanding, too," says the Journal. That is oh, so true.

Boston has had a string of convention center failures, all based on rosy projections by consultants. "The whole thing is a racket," says Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. "Once again the politicos will expand their empire. Once again crony capitalism will enrich a handful of wired business operators." And taxpayers will be screwed. Jacoby is right: it's a racket.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 31, 2011 @ 9:13 a.m.

The Journal gives some compelling numbers: in 2010, the nation's convention centers had 86 million attendees. That compares with 126 million in 2000. == But what was it in the years in between?

I agree 100% that these big downtown developments-all of them- are nothing mroe than capital cronyism for the handful of connected people......


Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2011 @ 11:37 a.m.

Generally speaking, for about two decades, cities have been building and expanding convention centers into an growing glut. But the consultants who give advice to the cities always recommend a huge taxpayer subsidy for a new center or an expanded one. In all these cities, the downtown overlords rake in money from the new or expanded center; everybody else loses. The mainstream media almost invariably go along with the consultants and their .000 batting average. Best, Don Bauder


dwbat Jan. 3, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.

An acquaintance of mine goes to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) every year at the huge Convention Center in Vegas. It's always been the largest show in town. He said for this year's CES, the nearby large Sands Convention Center is not being used. Two hotel exhibitor spaces are being used instead for the spillover and entertainment/food&booze events. This is a perfect example of convention biz decreasing throughout the country.


BradleyFikes Dec. 31, 2011 @ 10:48 a.m.

SurfPuppy619, Why do you hate San Diego?



Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2011 @ 11:38 a.m.

I hardly think SP hates San Diego. He just wants it to stop running itself lemming-like into the sea of bankruptcy. Best, Don Bauder


BradleyFikes Dec. 31, 2011 @ 2:27 p.m.

Don, I think you didn't pick up on the /sarc tag at the end of my comment.




SurfPuppy619 Dec. 31, 2011 @ 5:09 p.m.

I caught the sarcasm!

San Diego, IMO, is the greatest city in the USA. Although every place has its brightg spots-even ice cold East Lansing MI where I webt to school, YThsi si and always will be my home.

I love many parts of Orange County too, a few parts of Malibu, but San Diego is tops in my book.

I am just so sad that the state, and basically every muni in it including San Diego, has been Hi-jacked by special interests where the connected few and wrecked it for everyone else and we are all so far behind the 8-ball we can't see any light at the end of the tunnel.........and it jsut doesn't seem to be getting any better.


Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2011 @ 7:09 p.m.

Those who have witnessed the hijacking, and who are trying to save San Diego from the bandits, are the ones who love the city the most. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2011 @ 7:07 p.m.

Oh yes, I picked it up, but I thought I would add the comment anyway. I must admit I didn't initially know what /sarc meant, but I could easily guess. Best, Don Bauder


sdsocialdiary Jan. 1, 2012 @ 5:32 a.m.

I believe the ASR, Action Sports Retailer show is no more for San Diego....this used to be one of the big ones....multi-billion dollar industry with legendary parties... now it seems ComicCon is one of the few stable convention draws.


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 1, 2012 @ 9:48 a.m.

Was this the show where the young Hurley rep from OC was lured in by that phsycopath and murdered a few years back?>


Don Bauder Jan. 1, 2012 @ 12:53 p.m.

Don't ask me. I seldom follow such news. Chasing after private and public sector scams keeps me busy. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 1, 2012 @ 9:49 a.m.

Margo, how is your beautiful Boxer Kima doing? Been taking her out to the parties still? Kima is a true K-9 ambassador.


Don Bauder Jan. 1, 2012 @ 12:54 p.m.

In a recent Social Diary, it seems to me I saw Kima in fine fettle. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 1, 2012 @ 12:51 p.m.

I had a column a couple of weeks ago showing how the convention center massively overstates the hotel room nights its conventions generate. There are other aspects of its claims that bear scrutiny. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 1, 2012 @ 2:48 p.m.

I am not familiar with the Action Sports Retailer show. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Jan. 1, 2012 @ 11:23 a.m.

San Diego is gaining a reputation among tourists as the place to avoid. YouTube is filled with videos showing young people on their knees in Pacific Beach vomiting on the street. Fisticuffs are common at night in the Gaslamp and Pacific beach bar and restaurant areas. When tourists walk the boardwalk in Pacific Beach they are confronted with the stench of marijuana and see tattoed thugs and gangbangers with shaved heads ready to rumble. When tourists drive in from Los Angeles and look for parking spaces in the beach areas, they find gangbangers standing in front of parking spaces with their hands out asking for a gratuity for saving the space, with the implied threat of violence if they don't pay up. The tourists with thick wallets are going elsewhere. San Diego only attracts drunks, four or five college kids who drive in from LA in one car to cruise bars. They rent a single cheap room at Motel 6 and spend next to nothing and cause enormous problems for the police.


Don Bauder Jan. 1, 2012 @ 12:55 p.m.

Drunks and thugs aside, the beaches aren't so hot, either. Best, Don Bauder


sdsocialdiary Jan. 2, 2012 @ 6:06 a.m.

Surf Puppy ... Kima is doing well thank you... she is the Arthritis Ambassador once again and will be promoting dog and people health... as such she will also promote adoption of pets and support PAWS, a nice group that helps financially and physically less abled people keep their pets.... rather a full circle of positive... other... Kima will be the poster dog for the library's program that has timid readers read to dogs to help overcome reader shyness.... thanks for asking and Happy New Year.


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 8:44 a.m.

Kima plays an important role here. And happy new year to you. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:55 a.m.

The Comic Con convention is already showing signs of fracturing into smaller shows. WonderCon, a member of the ComicCon family has been held in San Francisco and is moving to Anaheim in 2012. It is attracting the original core comic collectors and enthusiasts. (It may return to SF, but that may hinge on their Anaheim experience.)

Comic Con has agreed to stay in San Diego until 2015. However, this WonderCon event gives Anaheim an opportunity to pull out the stops, be a fantastic host and try to entice Comic Con to move. With WonderCon there in 2012, and Disney Parks & Productions participating, and the generally less expensive hotel inventory nearby, it’s going to be a hard act for San Diego to follow.


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:09 p.m.

No intelligent business person would spend this kind of money to appease one customer, particularly if that customer might not stay. But the convention center people are using other people's money (the taxpayer's) and not their own. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:11 p.m.

Anaheim is closer to Hollywood, too. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Jan. 2, 2012 @ 10:19 a.m.

I want to elaborate on why I feel Anaheim is a hard act to follow, and why (in my opinion) Comic Con will eventually move anyway…

Anaheim has more experience with conventions. Tourism is it’s the city’s largest business. Disneyland is the largest employer. There is a greater concentration of motels and hotels close to Disneyland theme parks and the convention center. There is also a stadium that can be used for events.

Put yourself in the shoes of the typical Comic Con attendee, replace the Zoo, SeaWorld and the overpriced GasLamp with the Disney theme park experience... you have your answer. Also, the location makes it more convenient for the Hollywood movie and animations studios to participate, as well as making it easier for LA and Orange based celebrities to participate.


Don Bauder Jan. 3, 2012 @ 12:12 p.m.

Good points. There are disadvantages to Orange County, too -- traffic and long lines at restaurants, etc. are two of them. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Jan. 2, 2012 @ 12:19 p.m.

I don't see Comic Con as ever leaving San Diego. The founders of Comic Con made the mistake of creating a tax exempt organization to run Comic Con when it was a small affair, thus cutting themselves out of millions in profits as the convention grew. It is my understanding that the founders/directors of Comic Con are individuals of modest means, who have middle class jobs in San Diego. They are also sharply constrained in their ability to pay themselves salaries due to Comic Con's tax exempt status and the fact that contractors do the heavy lifting. I don't think the founders are going to move Comic Con from San Diego. Such a move would disrupt their lives, perhaps force them to leave San Diego and find new jobs.


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:14 p.m.

So if Comic-Con is not going to move, it makes even less sense to expand a convention center to accommodate it. The convention center expansion makes no sense to appease one group. And, of course, the convention center uses phony numbers and will certainly use them as they try to convince the public there should be an expansion. Criminal investigators should look into this, but don't hold your breath. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Jan. 2, 2012 @ 12:42 p.m.

True. They are locals with a non-profit status; on paper.

But as history has shown with similar situations, the tail can only wag the dog for so long.


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:15 p.m.

Even if the creators are San Diegans, there is no reason the show can't be moved out of San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard Jan. 2, 2012 @ 7:56 p.m.

I've been walking the heart of the drinking area in PB at all hours, and I find it far improved from my taxi days in the early nineties, the crowds are larger and better behaved, and come from all over the world. Mr. Burwell, if you are speaking from personal observation, pull over your car and have a talk with me, I'm giant and wear a shirt with Psycholizard on it. When on foot you will learn that people dressed differently are not to be feared, but are largely fun loving young people, gathering in San Diego for the vacation of their lives.

PB draws satisfied tourists from around the world, more each year. It's cool and sunny, and a happy place. Visitors from Planet Curmudgeon will be miserable of course, but they are miserable everywhere and anywhere.

Mr. Burwell, your comments are pure hallucination, worthy of a Republican presidential candidate. PB RULES.


Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:17 p.m.

It appears we have a genuine controversy here. What do PBers say? Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Jan. 2, 2012 @ 9:25 p.m.

I was going to say... this is interesting...


Don Bauder Jan. 3, 2012 @ 12:14 p.m.

But we haven't heard from PBers, despite the invitation. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard Jan. 3, 2012 @ 7:45 p.m.

I'm sorry I compared Mr. Burwell to a Republican presidential candidate, he doesn't seem to be a shyster or an idiot, so it's undeserved. plus I went too far for polite discourse. I hope he accepts my apology and rejoins the fray.

Most PBers are too busy having fun to blog much, I suspect. I like to have fun while blogging.

On the more serious note, tourism is rising in San Diego, and will continue rising regardless of the Convention Center. The City should improve tourist amenities, but adding to the Convention Center seems more of a boondoggle than something enjoyed by the average tourist. I suspect few tourists, even conventioneers, visit San Diego for the buildings.


Don Bauder Jan. 3, 2012 @ 9:32 p.m.

Burwell is one of our most intelligent posters. We need him. The convention center's numbers are false, as I showed in a column, "The Convention Center Liars," a few weeks ago. If this city were honestly run, there would be an investigation -- possibly a criminal one. But don't wait for it to happen. It won't. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Jan. 3, 2012 @ 8:24 p.m.

One factor that nobody has mentioned in regard to Comic Con is the large number of volunteers who make the show work. They are the unsung soldiers of the effort, many of whom take time off from their jobs to assist. They make the operation run as smoothly as it does go. Move that show elsewhere and most of them will be lost, and that means that the soul of the show is gone. No, for many reasons, Comic Con will not transfer elsewhere without severe degradation, and loss of interest.


Don Bauder Jan. 3, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m.

Interesting point. I believe that whether or not Comic-Con will go elsewhere, the convention center is a boondoggle designed to benefit downtown overlords, while the rest of San Diegans pay the bill. Best, Don Bauder


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