Unload the convention center
The new David L. Lawrence Convention Center would make a wonderful stand-alone casino.
If we sold the building to Harrah's or one of the other casino companies, we could:
- Recapture the $400 million cost.
- Put the building on the tax rolls.
- Bring a business to town.
- Eliminate a big dollar drain on the public.
Forbes magazine recently reported that city after city is being taken in by the convention center fallacy. In the past four years, the amount of exhibit space has grown by over 20 million square feet while attendance has remained the same. The article points out that these centers really are financial quagmires. They do not bring business to town. The country is awash in centers, and convention bureaus have to give incentives to compete.
Week after week, the Pittsburgh convention center sits empty with the lights on and utilities running. Recently, it was reported that it is out of money again ( "Banking on slots revenue, SEA needs a hand," June 18 and TribLIVE.com).
You know how bad this city is struggling, cutting back everywhere. Our police cars are old. Our garbage trucks are worn out. We can't open pools.
Selling the convention center would be a big step in Pittsburgh's future.