Many Things to Consider in Convention Center Discussion
Byline: Stephanie Penick
A good case can be made for more meeting and banquet space in Naperville.
When Cress Creek Country Club tears down its clubhouse this fall to build a bigger, more accommodating facility, the Rotary Club of Naperville and other groups that meet there will be dislodged for at least a year.
The 150-member club is discovering it's difficult to find space for its weekly meetings that will fit its parking, audio-visual and budget needs.
At least one board member said the frustrating search "just proves Naperville needs a conference center."
Talk of a conference center here dates at least to the late 1970s, with various people floating ideas for facilities with stages and meeting space to stimulate business travel and tourism and create new jobs.
Each of the proposals eventually has been set aside.
During the prosperity of the 1990s, Arthur Andersen published a report about convention centers and their potential for economic development.
Titled "Public Sector Financing of Hotel Development: The Prognosis for Public/Private Partnerships," the report said "public incentives to support private hotel investment can become a decisive component required to assure that public economic goals are achieved."
At the time, I was a member of the Naperville Visitors Bureau, a group funded by the hotel-motel tax that works to put heads in beds of Naperville's 16 hotels.
The bureau recognized requests for additional and larger banquet facilities for weddings, club meetings, fund-raisers and corporate events and worked to identify them.
Members even imagined a convention center.
For two years, the city council talked about plans to attract a full-service, upscale conference center and hotel to Naperville. The development would offer additional amenities and larger conference spaces than what we currently have.
I met Peggy Richardson about 27 years ago when I lived in New York City. At the time, she was beginning her career as a marketing director for Inter-Continental Hotels. Her lifestyle of travel and planning conventions for Fortune 500 clients at some of the world's most prestigious hotels always fascinated me.
We kept in touch and I watched as she climbed the ranks to become director for global partner hotels for Inter-Continental Hotels.
After one of the most prosperous decades ever for the travel industry, Richardson's job was eliminated because of the slowing economy and the effects of Sept. …