The Short Report - 2003-04-01

Ruling Could Aid Convention Labor Competition

A ruling handed down by federal court in February is likely to change future labor contracting at the Atlantic City Convention Center and could have effects at the neighboring Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia and even beyond.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit created a new precedent when it decided that a convention center management company (in this case, Philadelphia-based SMG), cannot compel general service contractors (in this case, Atlantic City-based Atlantic Exposition Services), to use any particular labor union for work done on the trade show floor.

The dispute began back in 1998 when AES brought legal action against the AC Convention Center, SMG, and Local 623 of the South Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters, challenging SMG's agreement with the carpenters' union that compelled AES to hire those carpenters.

"The ruling means that in some cases general contractors may not be forced by the facility to use certain union labor. It could promote competition," says Philadelphia-based attorney Joshua Grimes. "We do have a similar situation here at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, but it's not clear how many other convention centers could be affected."

Mixed on Hotel Demand

New York City-based hospitality consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers predict continuing sluggishness in the hotel market, estimating that the U.S. hotel industry will continue to face low demand through 2003.

The travel experts blame safety concerns precipitated by terrorist threats and conflict with Iraq, as well as decreased corporate travel.

Meanwhile, the building of new hotels in major American markets continues mostly unchecked. For instance, Tiffany Kendall, director of public relations, Four Seasons Houston, says that Houston will likely double its room-night inventory in the next year, with convention center construction fueling the boom.

Cities' bigger room inventories bring better bargaining power for buyers, but lower room rates only in some cases. Says Kendall, "We're holding pretty firm on our prices."

NFL Gives Big In San Diego

Do-gooders in San Diego did well this January when Super Bowl XXXVII officials donated $65,000 of leftover materials to local charities, with the help of event philanthropy specialists CharityDirect.

The San Diego-based nonprofit facilitated the donation of leftover Super Bowl goods, including 15,000 pounds of food, and office materials, says CharityDirect executive director Bill Metzdorf. The leftovers went to local philanthropies, including the San Diego Food Bank.

"We picked up leftover goods at Qualcomm Stadium where the game was held, and we got food and signage from a National Football League event at the convention center," says Metzdorf. "We also got food from local hotels."

CharityDirect chiefly facilitates the donation of leftover goods from events in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, but the nonprofit organization will be on the East Coast July 8-9, teaming up with MeetingWorld On Broadway show in New York City.