Maybe nobody comes 'cause it stinks
While Metro gets ready to push the area's taxpayers head first into the fiscal cesspool that is a headquarters hotel, coincidentally I had a speaking engagement at the Oregon Convention Center last evening. The place was a ghost town, as usual. Aside from the small group that I was addressing, there appeared to be only one event in the whole place -- some sort of manufactured event surrounding which high school athletes had "signed up" with one of the state universities in these parts. Not exactly a big show.
My evening made clear to me that the convention center's problems go well beyond the lack of a hotel across the street. In chronological order, here's what I found:
1. Six bucks to park in the garage, which was 99 percent empty. O.k., that was no surprise, but not a happy thing. With the vicious parking meter situation in that part of town, leaving the car on the street is no longer an option.
2. Ten minutes before my session was scheduled to start, the meeting room was still locked, and my crowd was sitting on the floor outside. The sponsor had to go flag down a security guard to open the room. This is a sponsor who's been in that facility every weeknight since the first of the year, and they still have to fight to get the doors open for their regular meeting.
3. At the speaker's podium, I found a mike that wouldn't reach high enough to be of much use if you were taller than five feet; it was on a stand that was too short to get the mike up to where it belonged. And there was an unspeakably cheesy podium light that (a) wasn't plugged in, (b) when plugged in, worked only if you jiggled both of the tacky little bulbs in it, (c) didn't light the place where a speaker would put his or her notes anyway, and (d) suddenly quit working when the power cord was moved out from under my feet. By far the worst podium light I have encountered in more than 20 years of public speaking. You could do better at the Dollar Store.
4. The room in which we sat had no ventilation -- it got progressively more oppressive as the four-hour session wore on. No windows, of course -- just awful, blank, institutional walls. By the end of the night, people were fanning themselves with their notes, and no doubt cursing their fates.
5. On the way out, the portal through which I had entered the parking garage was sealed off with locked gates, and there were exactly zero signs giving exiting cars a clue as to where they could find a way out.
6. Finally, I found an unlocked gate downstairs and got out of the place, but not before encountering a ticket machine that wouldn't read my parking ticket. I had to run the ticket through it three times to get it to work.
All this hassle is quite consistent with a few of my previous experiences at this facility. The building's not well built, and the service is second-rate. Even if we need a publicly owned hotel over there, let's implode the infernal convention center and put a nice park in its place.