by Jonathan Vatner | August 01, 2004

rendering of the New York Sports and Convention Center
A rendering of
the New York Sports and
Convention Center

Expansion to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center looks like a reality. Less certain is the New York Sports and Convention Center, an adjacent $1.4 billion, 75,000-seat New York Jets football stadium to double as 200,000 square feet of exhibit space.
    In May, the owners of Madison Square Garden financed the New York Association for Better Choices, which claims the project would waste $600 million in tax money for a building not useful to meeting planners.
    “We are concerned that stadium and convention uses are fundamentally incompatible,” said Anna Levin, a founding member of the NYABC and longtime opponent of a West Side stadium.
    For proof, the NYABC turned to Chicago-based HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Consulting. HVS showed that the three stadium/convention center hybrids in the United States average 11 conventions each per year, far fewer than the 40 the Jets predict. (A nonpartisan study settled on 20 events per year.)
    The reason for such low occupancy at stadium/convention centers, according to HVS, is that stadiums have higher heating, ventilation and air-conditioning costs than purpose-built convention centers, plus added hassle with move-in and move-out.
    In response, the Jets have launched a major publicity campaign of their own.
    Meeting planners generally support the plan. Javits’ three major show organizers all are in favor of the NYSCC. “People underestimate the uses for this facility,” said Ken McAvoy, senior vice president of operations for Reed Exhibitions, based in Norwalk, Conn.
    At press time, the project’s fate was uncertain. The Jets hope for a spring groundbreaking.