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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington said if you build it, they will come about the $60 million convention center downtown, but how is the facility really doing.

The Wilmington Convention Center gave city council its year-in-review report Tuesday night. General manager Susan Eaton says the center hosted some 113 events and almost 67-thousand people from July 1, 2011 until June 30, 2012.

That number included nine conventions, 12 shows, 60 banquets, and 32 meetings. Eaton, however, did not break down specifically how many people attended any particular events.

Eaton says there are two problems that continuously come up when trying to get people to come to the convention center. Where people are going to stay and where they are going to park.

Right now, parking for events is eight dollars a day at the attached parking garage. Eaton says she knows no one likes to pay for parking but it has to be done.

“You got to collect money so that you can pay those bills,” says Eaton. “It’s kind of a necessary evil to have such convenient parking.”

Eaton says she knows the facility has more to do before they reach their full potential. She hopes the addition of the hotel next door will help bring even more events to the area in 2013.

“Obviously there’s room to grow, there’s space to grow, there’s room for people to physically grow their events too,” says Eaton.

The convention center cost $60 million to build and is being paid for with hotel room occupancy taxes. Based on rooms available as of right now, that fund will run out in a few years – but Eaton and council members hope new hotels currently being built and a proposed convention center hotel will help that fund survive longer.

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22 Comments on "Wilmington Convention Center still has room to grow"

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2015 years 11 months ago

I’m certainly not related to her and as you can probably tell I don’t eschew most spending done by our fair city.
The CC is done and I’m against a taxpayer funded stadium.
Heck I don’t want ANY stadium down town.

“So as I previously stated, bring in a consultant with plenty of experience on just how these centers should be run.”

OK let me ask you –
This is exactly what the city did with Mandalay – they said “We want to double check this but we don’t have the expertise – who do you recommend?”
Mandalay says “NSS, they are the premiere folks… Read more »

2015 years 11 months ago

“But something needs to change on how the CC is managed.”

But we need to see the numbers to see what needs to be changed. That’s the paradox here.

And why compare us to Cabarrus county? Don’t we offer more then they do to possible attendees? I would think that we do.

As for this
“it is Ms. Eaton’s fault when she does not present realistic numbers and expectations to the City Council”
Was she asked? Apparently not, and the city chose (Not Eaton) to hide the numbers in the budget. She has absolutely no control over that.

I keep going back to our… Read more »

2015 years 11 months ago

I would almost think you are related to Ms. Eaton.

The bottom line is the CC is a white elephant which is a bottomless pit.

So as I previously stated, bring in a consultant with plenty of experience on just how these centers should be run.

Have them analyze the actual numbers.

Have them determine just what venues or events will be best for the white elephant.

If it turns out there are no practical, year round uses, then what will work throughout the year.

Do that before you splurge up to $37 million on a river front albatross.

The city can not afford it.

2015 years 11 months ago

I will repeat a thought here – it’s not Eaton’s fault.
In reading through SMG’s data and selling points on their website it appears as though they are a premiere CC operations group.
If our current bookings are the best they can do, it means to me that the industry of conventioneering is in a decline. Once I check convention numbers I see it’s been bad for conventions for years. It started with a decline in attendees, then the number of conventions themselves declined.
Again we built ours in the face of an industry decline but technology may kill off MOST… Read more »

2015 years 11 months ago

Really funny.

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