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Boston Has Had It with Losing Conventions

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[Photo via The Boston Globe]

The folks over at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority are making another move toward expanding the existing Boston Convention & Exhibition Center with a $1B project. The existing building remains one of the Northeast' largest exhibition centers, but they're arguing it's still not big enough.

If you've been following along, the authority has been taking steps toward expanding the function and accessibility of the BCEC for a while. First, they pushed hard to lift a 15-year-old hotel development ban in South Boston, a feat which they accomplished. This resulted in the state approving up to seven hotels with up to 2,700 rooms. And, last year, they acquired 5.6 acres on busy, busy D Street across from the BCEC. Two hotels and possible parking garages are planned for this site.

Their argument: In order to make Boston a top destination for conventions, it has to get bigger and it needs to be competitive. Compared to towns like Chicago and Orlando, with a greater number of hotel rooms, it costs more for event holders to use the BCEC because they have to bus in conventioneers from other parts of the city and beyond. In fact, the authority had to turn away conventions because they just didn't have the space.

The proposed project would increase the existing facility by 60 percent. An additional 1.3 million square feet will include new meeting space, a ballroom, and exhibit space. It would be supported by additional hotel rooms around the area, a separate effort that the authority is pushing. The expansion could be funded without levying new taxes and fees, with the authority claiming that a state fund that is supported by hotel room taxes and tourism activity generates enough money to cover the cost of building the additional space. Construction could start as soon as the end of this year and be completed by 2017.
· Potential remake at South Boston convention center [Globe]
· Connecting Southie—Brought to You by the Letter D [Curbed Boston]
· Our Complete Convention Center Coverage [Curbed Boston]