21 of the FAQ on the Convention Center Expansion
1. WHY IS THE PORT INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?Three main reasons.• It’s part of our mission. Convention centers that serve a statewide purpose are among uses for tidelands included in our legislative mandate dating back to 1962, when the Port was established by state law.• The Port is the landlord for the facility. This convention center, its Phase II expansion, and the proposed Phase III expansion are all on Port property, placing it under the Port’s stewardship and governance.
• The Port is an investor in the project. The Port is contributing approximately 12 percent of the project’s total projected cost with the expectation that increased revenues to the Port will result.
PURPOSES FOR USE OF TIDE AND SUBMERGED LANDS HELD IN TRUST BY DISTRICT.
2. WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE EXPANSION PLAN?
3. IS THIS DEFINITELY GOING TO BE HEARD AT THE COASTAL COMMISSION IN OCTOBER 2013?
Yes. The project will be heard during the Coastal Commission’s meeting on October 10, 2013.
4. THE CHARGERS HAVE SENT A LETTER TO THE COASTAL COMMISSION URGING THEM TO REJECT THE CURRENT EXPANSION PROPOSAL SAYING THAT THERE WAS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE ANALYSIS DONE FOR A NON-CONTIGUOUS EXPANSION. IS THIS TRUE?
No. Six different configurations for a convention center at the site identified by the Chargers for a joint-use stadium were thoroughly evaluated and rejected as not viable by a task force of San Diegans created in 2009 by Mayor Jerry Sanders. The Task Force report concluded the following:
The Tailgate site evaluation found that an active earthquake fault ran through the middle of the proposed site. Six different concepts were evaluated however the site was eliminated as feedback from convention center clients indicated the facility would not meet their primary needs of a contiguous space and was located too far from the current facility to be considered for use by large clients needing more space than currently exists in the current convention center.
Additionally, it was determined that to be marketable the Tailgate site would require a minimum of 400,000 square feet of exhibit space as well as meeting space. However, the bulk and scale of a facility of the size necessary to meet the program was deemed as another fatal flaw. The renderings show the required size and scale of two scenarios in context with the current size and scale of Petco Park. As a result, the Tailgate Park site was eliminated as a viable alternative.
5. WHY DOES THE CONVENTION CENTER NEED TO BE EXPANDED ON SITE? WHY NOT DO A NON-CONTIGUOUS EXPANSION?
The Citizen Task Force recommended that the expansion be contiguous with the current venue. An inland expansion would meet none of the San Diego Convention Center’s market demands, mainly because large events need contiguous space. Prospective clients have repeatedly expressed the need for a larger facility, and market research supports building that facility on the same site. Market experts presented information showing that a non-contiguous building, if it is built further than directly across the street, is not an expansion by definition to meeting planners. In fact, a noncontiguous building would result in two completely different venues. Essentially no major conventions and tradeshows, or consumer shows, would book both venues at the same time.
Another important factor is cost. A contiguous expansion is less expensive because of natural efficiencies in space utilization. For example, a contiguous expansion makes full use of existing back-of-the-house space and parking. In addition, a contiguous expansion makes use of public land owned by the Port of San Diego for this important public purpose, making it unnecessary to add the expense of additional land acquisition from private owners.
According to Tradeshow Week, 86% of convention and tradeshow producers say their ideal convention center has the primary exhibition hall in one building, on one level. A survey of convention center General Managers in 2008, found that 61% said “all in one facilities” will be the most common types of new convention center new building and expansion projects going forward.
6. THE CHARGERS HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THEIR PROJECT IS MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND AND CHARACTERIZED THE CURRENT EXPANSION PROPOSAL AS “A BIG BOX ON THE WATER” THAT BLOCKS VIEWS AND PEDESTRIAN ACCESS TO BAYFRONT. DOES IT IMPEDE VIEWS, PUBLIC ACCESS AND IS IT JUST A BOX ON THE WATER?
No. Contrary to the characterization of the proposed Phase III Convention Center Expansion as a “big box on the water” the proposal is an environmentally designed expansion that provides a 5-acre rooftop park and public plaza that protects view corridors, enhances public access and safety, and activates an underutilized part of San Diego’s downtown waterfront.
7. WHY NOT CONSIDER THE JOINT-USE STADIUM ALTERNATIVE?
The current proposal to expand the San Diego Convention Center is the culmination of a multi-year planning process that involved citizens, organizations, and elected officials from across San Diego. We believe this is the right project to expand the convention center and build on our 23 years of success driving visitors to our region and tax revenues to the City of San Diego and Port of San Diego which provides funding for parks, police, fire and libraries in every community.
Most importantly to our clients, it meets their needs well into the future for a contiguous exhibit hall that allows their exhibitors and attendees to meeting in one location. Our clients, when interviewed about the proposed Chargers site, rejected a non-contiguous expansion as not meeting their needs and therefore, not viable to accomplish the City of San Diego’s goals of retaining customers who are outgrowing the current facility and attracting those who have never been able to fit in the current facility. Specifically, the following excerpt from MCFT Final Report addressed this finding:
The goal for the San Diego Convention Center is to host more large shows (that don’t fit currently); and host more events simultaneously; and make move-in/move-out more efficient, therefore the highest probability for success could be expected from an expansion that utilizes contiguous space.
A non-contiguous building if it is further than directly across the street, is not an expansion by definition to meeting planners – it would result in two completely different venues; basically no major conventions and tradeshows (or consumer shows) would book both venues at the same time.
8. IS COASTAL COMMISSION APPROVAL THE FINAL HURDLE FOR THIS PROJECT?
No. The next steps:
• Port to issue Coastal Development Permits
9. WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?
The City of San Diego estimates the total construction cost of the expansion at approximately $520 million. The City intends on financing the majority of the expansion through a special tax on hoteliers and City revenue generated through the Transient Occupancy Tax.
The Port of San Diego’s financial contribution is capped at $60 million over a 20-year period. The Port bases this investment on the project’s positive economic impact and the likelihood that it will result in increased revenues to the Port District. This project includes the opportunity to develop 500 new hotel rooms to support the Convention Center, which will eventually translate to additional revenue to the Port.
It is important to note as well that the contributions from the Port and the hotel tax assessment cannot be transferred to a different project such as the joint-use stadium.
10. WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE COST OVERRUNS?
This is an issue that would have to be addressed by the City of San Diego, because the Port of San Diego’s contribution is capped at $60 million over 20 years.
11. WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM TO EXPAND THE SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER?
A Citizen Task Force was convened in January 2009 to address the San Diego Convention Center Project (MCTF). Its members were asked to review: The state of the convention and meeting industry; San Diego’s success and profile among its competitive set; and to evaluate the market demand for an expanded facility. After seven months of studying the issues, numerous presentations and a series of public meetings, the MCTF recommended in late August 2009 that the City of San Diego should proceed with an expansion. (A full report of the findings and recommendations can be found at www.conventioncentertaskforce.org)
12. WHAT BENEFITS DOES THE CONVENTION CENTER PROVIDE TO SAN DIEGO RESIDENTS AND TAXPAYERS?
Public investment in the Convention Center has turned out to be a very good decision for San Diego residents and taxpayers. Since opening the Convention Center has become one of the regions strongest economic engines attracting more than 18.4 million visitors whose spending and attendance has generated over $22.9 billion in economic impact, $430 million in tax revenues and 13.6 million room nights for local hoteliers. The spending by overnight visitors who attend conventions significantly eases the tax burden on residents. Sales and hotel room tax dollars stay here long after the convention is over and filter into local communities. The tax revenues help pay for police and fire protection to keep San Diegans safe; the upkeep of libraries and museums to enrich the lives of locals and visitors; and maintain our beautiful parks and beaches enjoyed by everyone. More than 12,500 local jobs are tied to events in the facility. In addition, the Convention Center has been a catalyst for substantial growth and development helping to transform downtown into a vibrant hub that visitors and locals both enjoy.
13. IF THE BUILDING INCREASES IN SIZE, WILL THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS AND JOBS THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY INCREASE AS WELL?
Yes. According to research and data presented to the MCTF, an expansion of the Convention Center is expected to generate:
• Increased economic impact of $698 million annually, in addition to the average $1.3 billion the Convention Center already provides our community;
• Increased tax revenue of $13.5 million annually, in addition to what the Convention Center already generates annually. In FY13 alone, events tied to the building generated $19.2 million in sales and hotel room tax revenues;
• More than 6,880 new, permanent jobs, in addition to the 12,500 jobs throughout San Diego County already supported by the Convention Center. This estimate of new, full-time jobs does not include thousands of temporary construction jobs.
14. IS THERE A MARKET DEMAND FOR AN EXPANDED CONVENTION CENTER?
Absolutely. For the past several years market demand has surpassed the current supply of space the building offers. In fact, 39.7 percent of prospective customers that do not book the San Diego Convention Center attribute that decision to “Center Unavailable” or lack of space. As a result, San Diego loses approximately a year’s worth of business every year to competitor cities, or approximately $1 billion in economic impact.
15. WHEN IS THE EXPECTED OPENING DATE?
Once the expansion has received all the necessary permits and the funding mechanism is in place, construction on the expansion can begin. The expansion is expected to take approximately 30 months to complete. If all approvals are in place in early 2014, the expansion will be completed by 2018.
16. WHAT IS THE PROPOSED SIZE OF THE SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION IN TERMS OF EXHIBIT SPACE AND MEETING SPACE?
Based on several studies, the San Diego Convention Center Corporation is recommending adding approximately 225,000 contiguous sf of exhibit space; 101,000 sf of meeting space; and an 80,000 sf ballroom. This will allow us to accommodate larger existing business that has outgrown the building, or will soon be reaching capacity; new potential business; as well as to host simultaneous mid-size conventions. The chart below reflects the design team’s recommendation for the expansion, as well as approximate total square footage:
SQUARE FOOTAGE SUMMARY*
17. WHERE WILL THE EXPANSION BE LOCATED?
The expansion will be built adjacent to the existing building on the same footprint of land. It will be located along San Diego Bay on the side that houses Exhibit Halls D-H.
18. HOW MUCH WILL THE EXPANSION COST?
The City of San Diego will explore financing options for the project. The cost is contingent upon a broad range of undetermined variables. Final design, financing, economic conditions, market rates, construction costs, expansion size and amenities are just a few of them. The Task Force initially studied a preliminary, “test-fit” concept for purposes of the MCTF which was estimated to cost $750 million. However, the San Diego Convention Center Corporation issued an RFP in August 2010, and in November 2010, selected a new, more cost effective and efficient design. The new design is 38% less in reduced mass and volume and the new cost estimate is $520 million.
19. WHO IS DESIGNING THE EXPANSION?
The design team of Fentress Architects/John Portman & Associates/Civitas Inc. were selected. Fentress has worked on many other civic projects including the: Colorado Convention Center – both Phase I and expansion projects; Pasadena Convention Center; Santa Fe Community Convention Center; and the Los Angeles International Airport Tom Bradley International Terminal Expansion and Enabling projects.
20. WILL THERE BE ANY PUBLIC AND/OR DESTINATION ENHANCEMENTS FOLDED INTO THE PROJECT?
The site is located along San Diego’s signature waterfront so there is ample opportunity to enhance public serving amenities to benefit visitors and locals alike. The concepts include a 5-acre waterfront park; grassy wide open spaces for public art, concerts and other events; retail space; a restaurant; and a pedestrian promenade showcasing views of San Diego Bay, just to name a few. The expansion would also include development of a convention-oriented hotel and a previously planned water taxi.
21. WILL THE EXPANSION BE GREEN?
Consistent with the recommendations of the MCTF, public feedback and the San Diego Convention Center Corporation’s commitment to sustainable practices, a number of environmentally-friendly options are being proposed to make the expansion one of the greenest buildings in the nation. The building will conform to the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED certification.
Fentress has completed a preliminary LEED scorecard and believes that a Gold ranking will be possible. Other features include: energy efficient lighting, using natural light and sun shading; incorporation of a photovoltaic system to offset energy use; natural ventilation, solar chimney, geothermal heat exchange and use of wind power; storm water retention and filtration; on-site water treatment system for grey water recovery and re-use and dewatering desalination; low water plantings, drip irrigation and minimization of domestic water demand from city system; recycling and use of recycled materials and food composting.
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