CCTB Survey: Fewer Convention Center Expansions

Chicago — The number of convention center expansion projects in the United States and Canada is decreasing, according to a new survey of convention bureaus.

Nine bureaus, or 15 percent of respondents, reported center expansion plans, according to the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau's 15th Annual Competitive Analysis Report. That figure compares with 22 planned expansions cited in the 2005 report and 17 mentioned in 2004.

The CCTB cautioned about drawing definitive conclusions, because the response rate on the questions pertaining to center expansions was limited. Still, survey results suggest that the era of rapid convention space expansion is dwindling.

Planned exhibit-space expansions range from 45,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet, with the median expansion being 150,000 square feet. Facility managers typically planned to build 18 additional meeting rooms.

The CCTB conducted the survey last year in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Sixty bureaus participated in the survey out of 111 bureaus solicited, a 54 percent response rate.

The survey also found that for the 47 bureaus that participated in the current as well as previous survey, the budgets of only four bureaus remained the same. Thirty bureaus reported budget increases ranging from one-half to more than 43 percent; and 13 bureauus cited decreases up to nearly 50 percent.

Overall, bureaus last year reported that their budgets increased 4.5 percent over what was reported the prior year. The median budget was $8.5 million annually.