Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities

By Heywood T. Sanders | Go to book overview

consultants, that a new or larger convention center would yield a wave of new out-of-town visitors. Those visitors, bringing “new money” to the city, would in turn spur new private development, and ultimately thousands—often tens of thousands—of new jobs. With that money, development, and jobs would come a proportional wave of new public tax revenues, revenues sufficient to provide a substantial “return” on the public investment in convention center development.

In many ways, the contemporary convention center development story is one of the unbridled successes of local government: success in overcoming political obstacles and often public opposition, success in mobilizing public revenues and dollars, success in building expansive new facilities, success in ultimately securing the ability to compete against other cities for lucrative convention business. But while communities have proven remarkably capable of building new and larger centers, they have proven remarkably unsuccessful in filling them. From Atlanta to Seattle, Boston to Las Vegas, the promises of local officials and the forecasts of consultants have come up short. State and local governments have built modern new centers, only to see half or less of the convention attendees promised by the consultants. Other cities have expanded their existing centers, yet failed to see any consistent increase in business. Indeed, there is substantial evidence that the supply of convention center space substantially exceeds demand (a “buyer’s market”), with cities desperately competing by offering their center space rent free.

Why have cities and other state and local governments invested billions in convention center building when the actual results, in terms of new convention attendees, visitors, and economic impact, are quite limited or nonexistent? Why do local officials from Anaheim to Washington make convention centers, and tourism generally, such a signal public priority even as they cut back on public services and essential public facilities?

For some observers, such as economist Edward Glaeser, these investments amount to a misplaced set of public priorities on the part of elected officials, an “edifice error” exemplified by Detroit’s spending on an arena and a downtown People Mover. Glaeser argues, “Too many officials in troubled cities wrongly imagine that they can lead their city back to its former glories with some massive construction project—a new stadium or light rail system, a convention center or a housing project.” Correct as Glaeser’s observation is, it emphasizes the question of why convention centers and stadiums, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or a new aquarium routinely rise to preeminence as local policy priorities. Some observers have stressed the local interests that

-x-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I - The Race to Build 1
  • Chapter 1 - Building Boom 3
  • Chapter 2 - Paying for the Box 42
  • Chapter 3 - Promises and Realities 85
  • Chapter 4 - They Will Come… and Spend 124
  • Chapter 5 - Missing Impact 150
  • Part II - From Economics to Politics 209
  • Chapter 6 - Chicago- Bolstering the Business District 211
  • Chapter 7 - Atlanta- Enhancing Property Values 260
  • Chapter 8 - St. Louis- Protection from Erosion 341
  • Conclusion - The Cities Business Builds 430
  • Note on Sources 453
  • Notes 457
  • Index 501
  • Acknowledgments 513
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 514

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.