By and large, political and economic conservatives pushed the San Diego Convention Center expansion plans through. They didn't read, or ignored, an article that appeared in City Journal in winter of last year. The magazine was published by the conservative Manhattan Institute.
The article's lead paragraph stated, "For two decades, American cities have used public dollars to build convention center space — far more than demand warranted. The result has been a gigantic nationwide surplus of empty meeting facilities, struggling convention centers, and vacant hotel rooms. Given the glut, you'd think that cities would stop. Instead, many are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to expand convention centers and open yet more dazzling hotels."
The magazine then noted that the private sector wouldn't touch such goofy investments.
City Journal pointed out that in 2007, before the Great Recession, the Destination Marketing Association International was already calling it "a buyer's market." Now it has gotten much worse. "In 2010, conventions and meetings drew just 86 million attendees, down from 126 million ten years earlier," said the publication. Over the same time, available convention space increased to 70 million square feet from 40 million two decades earlier.
It's madness. Did the San Diego corporate welfare beggars read this article? They ignored the warnings of Heywood Sanders, the nation's expert on centers, as quoted many times in the Reader. But there were other sources — the Wall Street Journal was another.