Northwest Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005

ANCHORAGE - The convention business is slowing down and shrinking at the same time that dozens of cities - including Anchorage - are planning or building larger centers, according to a report published Monday.

Demand for convention space nationwide has been declining and likely won't be increasing, despite upbeat projections from industry groups, according to Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas, San Antonio, who wrote the study.

There's a glut of convention space that has prompted even the largest and historically most successful centers to slash rental rates and even give space away, the report says.

Anchorage convention center proponents want a 193,000-square-foot center on what is now a parking lot between the Conoco Phillips and Atwood buildings downtown. Voters in April will have to approve raising the city's hotel tax to 12 percent from 8 percent to pay for the center.

The Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau, which markets Anchorage to meeting planners and visitors, would run the proposed new center.

A privately funded political nonprofit group last week released a preliminary economic study by Anchorage-based Northern Economics estimating a new center could add 1,925 jobs and $133 million in spending to the local economy within five years.

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