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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lights out at the Portland Hilton

While Portland's mayor continues to "mentor" the Convention Center hotel idea, here's confirmation that he is, well, nuts.

Comments (7)

Someone really should ask Adams who's giving him the payola to continue this project, and couch it in those terms. Considering that Portland's existing hotels are all hurting, building a big new one with city funds is just insane. Naturally, that won't keep it from going through anyway.

(The other thing to consider is not just how many rooms are available in a particular hotel, but what sort of clientele they attract. A few months ago, I brought this whole situation up with a friend, and he started crowing about how Portland had just hosted a big open source conference, so the idea of Portland having problems attracting conventions was false according to him. Let us never mind that any open source convention brings to mind the old joke about the Comdex tech shows that used to run in Las Vegas: "The attendees all show up with one clean shirt and one $20 bill, and they don't change either for the entire week.")

This is the sort of news that causes Sam Adams to hop on his bike and cut the ribbon at a sustainable tattoo parlor run by homeless teens: "This business shows that Portland is serious about business."

I'm not really much of a fan of a public subsidy for building or operating a hotel, but I will say this much:

I was at Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. They announced that the 2010 conference would be in Las Vegas - "bringing it back to the West!"

I tracked down the board chair of the group to ask why Vegas was getting a second shot - rather than, say, Portland. The decision, he said, was easy: without a hotel next to the convention center, it didn't make sense, especially for a conference that starts early in the morning and runs until late at night. (Bill Clinton spoke at 10 p.m., for example.)

Like I said, I'd rather see the private sector take this on - but we're spending (and have spent) millions on the convention center. If we're losing out on tourism dollars because the private sector can't get its act together to build a hotel there, well, maybe the public should.

That said, while I could support public money to subsidize building it, it had better be sustainable without public money for operations.

Gee, I have an idea, why doesn't the Democratic Party and Blue Oregon go into the hotel business if it's such a hot idea to be flying people all over the country to talk about issues like our actual (rather than rhetorical) unwillingness to reduce greenhouse emissions and how to best bend over on health care reform obviously requires new hotel rooms in ultra green Portland.

Perhaps the person you spoke with was just full of it and simply gave you the first reason that popped into his head. Vegas just built 40,000 new rooms to sit on top of its already-vast room inventory; any more building and LV will be paying conventions.

We're not "losing tourist dollars," we're saving multi-millions on a boondoggle avoided. Tourism is dying a fast death, and good riddance.

I'm getting the feeling that Chisholm is hitting the Trail. His thinking is getting non-sustainable.

Talked to a friend of mine yesterday who works in management at the Marriot on Naito Parkway. He tells me that business is down for all the hotels in Portland; not just at the Hilton. You have to wonder what alternate universe this Adams jerk lives in to support a hotel at the convention center.

So the elephant sitting in the whole convention discussion which no one wants to discuss is the OLCC and its regulations. Back in the 90s, I asked the organizers of what was in those days one of the biggest IT conventions of its ilk why they did not come to Portland. I got a long diatribe on liquor regulations in Oregon. Now, booze may not be running as freely these days at conventions but .... I suspect the OLCC and its arcane rules still make PDX unattractive. The biggest thing is charges can only be by the drink not by bottle and mixer costs. That's not true many other places.

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