Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
No-Smoking Law Sends Group
A dispute over a new nonsmoking law in Rochester,
Minn., has caused a major group gathering to relocate.
In 2000, the American Veterans (or AmVets) chose Rochester as
the site for the group’s 2005 convention, with the proviso that
members would be able to smoke at the meeting. “When we send out
specs, we tell them smoking is non-negotiable,” said Linda Ann
Tucker, executive meeting planner for Lanham, Md.-based AmVets.
However, a citywide no-smoking ordinance passed in November
2001. The AmVets decided to move to a more smoker-friendly site,
claiming Rochester officials had never provided them with revised
hotel and convention center contracts.
The group began rebidding its 5,000-room-night convention in
late 2002 and informed the Rochester CVB this past April that the
convention would be relocated to Kansas City, Mo.
Still, the CVB worked hard to salvage the deal. Hotels agreed to
convert more guest rooms to smoking rooms and diagrammed private
dining areas where the group could smoke. The AmVets weren’t aware
of these efforts, however, and felt ignored by the CVB.
Interestingly, Kansas City also might impose a smoking ban by
the time the AmVets arrive. If a ban were to be instated, Tucker
said she would seek an exception for the group. “We’d petition the
city to waive the ordinance, since we have signed contracts that
allow for smoking,” she said.
• JONATHAN VATNER
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