San Diego Convention Center Expansion in Jeopardy
The funding strategy for a $520 million expansion to the San Diego Convention Center was ruled unconstitutional by a court of appeals, placing the project in jeopardy. Two years ago, area hotel owners voted to create a self-assessment fee of 1 to 3 percent that would be charged to hotel guests, the earnings from which would help to fund the expansion. However, an appeals court deemed the agreement unconstitutional on the grounds that the city's registered voters should have been involved in the approval process. Proponents of the funding initiative must now decide whether to appeal the court's most recent ruling or revise its plan.
The expansion was set to add 225,000 square feet of exhibit space, which would give San Diego the largest contiguous exhibit hall on the West Coast with a total of 840,000 square feet. In addition, the project called for an additional 101,000 square feet of meeting space and a new 80,000-square-foot ballroom. "It remains a top priority for our community to expand the convention center to accommodate events that have outgrown our current facility; create more space for additional events; and to ensure we remain a world-class meeting and convention destination," said Joe Terzi, president and& CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority.
The center's contract with Comic-Con International, which brings in some 130,000 attendees and $178 million in economic impact, is set to expire in 2016, and the lack of additional space may put an extension of the deal at risk, according to several sources.