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Attendance down at Raleigh Convention Center

Posted January 29, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The economic trouble that is causing so many headaches is affecting business at the newly opened Raleigh Convention Center, which isn't seeing as many visitors as officials want.

Laurie Okun, director of convention sales, says that so far this year, one group has canceled, another decided to move to a different venue because it is cheaper and two other groups rescheduled.

Raleigh convention center Raleigh convention center not immune to economy

"The biggest thing that concerns me is not the cancellations; it's the lower numbers of people that could be traveling, especially state travel."

Gov. Bev Perdue recently told all state agencies to cut spending by 7 percent, which could lead to cuts in travel and training spending.

The same policy, Okun fears, will be repeated and will have an impact on how many people will be at conventions this year.

"That's life, that's how I look at it," Okun said. "If anyone thought about opening this building with no snags, they probably shouldn't have this job."

Government events aren't the only ones that could be affected.

The National Agents Alliance, an insurance marketing group, is holding its second event at the center this month. The event is expected to draw about 2,000 people, but organizers were hoping for more.

"We expected to have up to 25 percent, and we had up to, maybe, 8 percent," said Andy Albright, the organization's director.

The $221 million Raleigh Convention Center, which opened in September after nine years of planning and construction, is 500,000 square feet. It has 19 meeting rooms, a grand ballroom and a four-star, 400 room Marriott hotel next door.

The city's investment was $41 million over budget, but city leaders have said they expect it to give a major boost to downtown Raleigh's rebirth.

15 Comments

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  • foetine Jan 29, 2009

    did you see all the media coverage for when a sub sandwich shop opened next to the Convention Center. Imagine they'll have a mega-parade when Burger King moves onto Fayetteville Street

  • bs101fly Jan 29, 2009

    Bev ain't taxing me for it! She and Meeker can stuff that idea!
    Guess Meeker's vision of greatness ain't so great after all huh!
    Maybe a gun & knife show will help out. Especially since most Amercians are about ready to pull one of each on the government!

  • are you kidding me Jan 29, 2009

    So, is there some expectation that business would be good there right now? Should have never been built! Who is running this place? I have had enough of this nonsense! Without question, this investment was lacking foresight!

  • bomanicous Jan 29, 2009

    The taxpayers were strongly against this waste of money (especially after the private investors pulled out) but what do we know? Now Gov. Rev Per-nue will tax us for something we didn't want to begin with. These people in Govco are way out of control with OUR money. It's going to get worse and there's nothing we can do about it now.

    They still don't understand we don't want a light rail but they are still going ahead with the plans. Lack of public support won't stop progress on their part, they'll just keep it off the headlines. They aren't paying for it.

    It's way too long until election day.

  • TheAdmiral Jan 29, 2009

    I think it is funny that they knew about the souring economy almost two years ago - and they knew that they are not going to make the money back in a year like they wanted.

    Oh well - One building - Brand New - For Auction.

  • commonsense2 Jan 29, 2009

    great investment raleigh

  • starglow2005 Jan 29, 2009

    It's always about downtown Raleigh. What does the rest of Raleigh get besides higher taxes and fees?

  • Grumbling1 Jan 29, 2009

    How about we just tear this one down and build a new one.

  • FloydRTurbo Jan 29, 2009

    Watch Mayor Cholly squirm out of this one. This was a con-job from the get go. Economic impact figures were juggled and back-end budgets rigged to give Meeker and his cronies the cover they needed to ram this thru.

  • TheAdmiral Jan 29, 2009

    "If this is not the case, we should......buy more condoms."

    You can buy them by the bulk via state surplus for less than a penny a pound and then sell them back to the state for a dollar each!

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