April 11, 2007

Harrah's Entertainment stockholders last week approved a $17 billion bid by two private equity firms to take the casino company private. The acquisition, by Apollo Management Group and Texas Pacific Group, already has been sanctioned by the European Union but still is subject to review by a dozen regulatory bodies in the United States. A spokesperson for Meetings by Harrah's Entertainment said the company's operations are expected to continue as usual.

A $55 million renovation is complete at the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki. The work outfitted the property's 1,481 standard guest rooms with new bedding, LCD flat-screen televisions, high-speed Internet access and an electronic safe large enough for a laptop computer. Upgrades to the 214 suites will finish up in November. The hotel's 46,000 square feet of meeting space features a 26,000-square-foot ballroom.

The Tucson (Ariz.) City Council has approved unanimously the public funding of a $130 million, 12,500-seat arena. The council also voted to back a $64 million renovation of the Tucson Convention Center, including the conversion of the current arena into an exhibit hall and the addition of new meeting space. Construction on the arena could begin as early as next year.

Dennis Edwards has resigned from his position as senior vice president at the Greater Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Convention & Visitors Bureau to become president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh (N.C.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, effective May 7. ├ŽEdwards takes over from David Heinl, who started the Raleigh CVB 20 years ago and announced his resignation last August.

VisitPittsburgh, the convention and visitor bureau for Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, announced several staff promotions this week in preparation for the Sept. 1 retirement of executive vice president Bob Imperata, who has been with the organization for 39 years. Among the changes: Craig Davis, formerly executive director of convention sales, has been promoted to vice president, sales and marketing. In his expanded role, Davis will assume responsibility for convention sales and services, tourism and cultural heritage and the organization's marketing and communication departments.