Mayor Charles Meeker released some good information about the new convention center. From an article in the N&O:
Raleigh officials are trumpeting progress on the new downtown convention center, which they said today is now 75 percent complete.
The convention center is expected to open in September 2008, along with a new Marriott Hotel and an underground parking deck. The hotel is currently 50 percent complete, while the parking deck is 85 percent complete.
Downtown boosters say that first-year booking of the convention center has reached 164 percent of their goals, including 23 conventions. There are 58 events scheduled for the second year so far.
Twenty-three conventions have been booked for the first year of operations, and 58 events have been lined up for the second year, officials said. More than 63,600 nights in the four-star, 400-room Marriott hotel next to the convention center have been booked in the first year, they said.
This obviously sounds like a success story and we are still one year from opening. Based on the numbers from WRAL, 63,600 hotel nights in the 400 room hotel means that the Marriott could be at capacity on an average of 3 nights a week just for the first year. This is also just the Marriott, I’m curious to see if the Sheraton and Clarion have seen increase in bookings. I would imagine they have. Perhaps a successful convention center, once up and running, will get the Winston Hotel Project and the LaFayette into the fast lane as these hotels have been quiet recently.
As a side note, if you really want to read a different opinion of this news, browse through the WRAL comments. Most of it is just bashing the fact that the convention center exists, with the exception of a few supporters. I am obviously no expert and am not claiming to be, but it should be great news that such a huge investment is showing great signs of being successful. The fact that thousands of people are now traveling to Raleigh for a convention is a positive thing for our city. They and their businesses will spend money in restaurants, shops, the airport, hotels, rental cars, and other services that all have a tax in some way. This tax is added revenue for the city to be used on other projects, like infrastructure or schools. I do not want to get into a numbers battle to see if the $220 million spent is worth it but thinking about it this way makes sense to me. Everyone has their own opinion and that is fine. Heck, $220 million could have gone towards a nice rail line, similar to the old proposed TTA light rail, but this is the way our city leaders went. Let’s just be happy it is a success and be proud of the city we live in.