Minneapolis Convention Center Cuts Costs, Staff

In an effort at reducing its dependence on funding from the city, the Minneapolis Convention Center is cutting operating costs by laying off approximately a dozen supervisors and placing 23 of its 44 full-time events staff on a call-in-as-needed status, according to local media reports.

Minneapolis business publication Finance & Commerce reported last week that the city-owned convention center uses approximately $12 million a year in funds from local sales, lodging, liquor and entertainment taxes. Executive Director Jeff Johnson wants to reduce that number to $8 million by 2015 — an amount he claims is comparable to facilities in other Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis.

"We want to make sure this is a strong convention center for many, many years, and we don't want to be wasteful in anything we do," Johnson said, according to Finance & Commerce, which reported that a more efficient operation is expected to help Minneapolis compete with convention centers in destinations such as Las Vegas, New Orleans and Chicago, where facilities have cut convention pricing in order to boost business.

Additionally, it's hoped that a leaner operation could persuade city leaders to vote somewhere down the line in favor of financing a new downtown convention hotel. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 hotel rooms within a two-block radius of the Minneapolis Convention Center; many similarly sized Midwestern cities have approximately 4,000.

According to Finance & Commerce, Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant said a "convention hotel is desired by meeting planners to accommodate their largest meetings, and as such would be an advantage for the city."