Wilmington Convention Center and Convention Visitors Bureau annual update

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Submitted: Wed, 04/17/2013 - 3:59am
Updated: Wed, 04/17/2013 - 8:32am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Wilmington Convention Center and Convention Visitors Bureau gave their annual update at the Wilmington City Council meeting Tuesday night.

According to the Center’s leaders, the number of events and people attending events are increasing.

They say the room occupancy tax, which funds the center, has increased by ten percent in 2012 and increased almost seven percent this year.

“We saw an increase in leads of 40 percent from 2011 to 2012 and we are seeing an increase in the booked business, we’re seeing an increase in the repeat business of people using the center as well,” said Kim Hufham, CEO of Convention Visitors Bureau.

The Convention Center is in its third year of operation and was voted the 2012 Conventions South Reader’s Choice Award.


  • Joshua Fulton says:

    This whole thing is astonishing. Anyone interested in even the slightest digging, and with the abilities to read numbers, can tell you that this thing loses millions every year.

    It lost something like $5M this year. It’s right there in the latest CAFR.

    Where’s that in the story? It’s just more parroting some city of Wilmington press release.

    Yada, yada, yada.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you can play with numbers all you want. Leads are not sales until they sign on the dotted line.

    The real bottom line — did the convention center at least break even in operating expenses versus revenue or will it be receiving public funds to cover the shortfall?

    And if it did not break even, what is the magic target date for such an event?

  • Vog46 says:

    Not being sarcastic – why should we care?
    In the 2012 CAFR report the CC lost $5M operationally last year. That is down from a $6Mloss the year prior.
    The city payments top out at $4.1M in 2 years and remain at $4.1M for the remainder of the bond term.
    The ONLY way for the city to cover the operational losses above that $4.1M is to increase the ROT revenues which are increasing over last years. Additionally there are 2 hotels under construction and another one “on the books”.
    I believe this works this way:
    They collected ROT before constructions started and built up “the fund”. They are collecting ROT for the CC and drawing down the fund to cover anything above and beyond the ROT amount collected. If they increase ROT collections they hide the true performance of the CC, as the fund draw down will slow down due to the increased ROT collection.
    At the point the bond is paid, does the ROT agreement dissolve? If so the city at that time will be on the hook for a LOT of operational losses.
    This is the city piggy backing off tourism to fund a losing operation. By putting hotels in the down town area they collect ROT that doesn’t go to the county.
    It’s a unique plan but the CC is losing money operationally which shows poor management and lack of growth.
    Local, one day meetings are losers for a facility this size, yet, it’s what they are booking. If you use the ROT transfer amount, and the transfer from the Fund you will see $6M.
    Using sales taxes alone – the attendees at the CC would have to spend in excess of $100M at 6% to generate a net positive economic impact.


  • Guest-o-matic says:

    ….NO and NEVER.

  • Vog46 says:

    as expected.
    If what we are seeing is way too many day only events as is implied the CC will never amount to much. While I admire the increased bookings and number of people attending the operational losses of the CC will continue and it may never turn a profit.
    As time goes on we will begin to realize that the classic, “convention” – a multi day event that businessmen brought their wives to has gone away – replaced by meeting software – saving company’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    Of course, the city is counting on increased ROT to pay for this debacle. They have 2 hotels under construction right now.
    This is not about the CC. This is about the city getting ROT from the overflow of tourists going to the beach communities.
    The key to the performance of SMG and the CC is how they address operational losses. So far they have been an abysmal failure – but as long as the city is taking in more ROT then they have to pay out they don’t care.
    At the end of the bond the noose will tighten around the city’s neck.


  • Guest111 says:

    I still want to see the figures. A P & L would be nice. Don’t we have the right to see on paper how the CC is doing? Not that I wouldn’t trust what these folks say but it’s always better to see the numbers on paper.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    The Convention Center’s update probably should have consumed less time to present than Frédéric Chopin’s Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1, or as it’s popularly called, “The Minute Waltz”.

    The apparent highlights are that there’s more ROT available for the White Elephant to feed on and that there’s a 40% increase in sales leads.

    Unfortunately, the amount of ROT available has nothing to do with the CC’s actual profitability and shouldn’t have even been included in the presentation.

    As for the sales leads: I find it interesting that a specific percentage of 40% in leads was specified yet when it came to increases in booked business and repeat business no specific percentage of increase was specified. The only plausible explanation for highlighting an increase in potential, yet unsold business, instead of highlighting a specific increase in actual sales is because things really aren’t going very well. That’s about as unsophisicated as a magician kicking over a floor lamp onstage to distract the audience while pocketing a card during a magic trick.

  • Vog46 says:

    I’m a little slow. It would take me 90 seconds to listen to the minute Waltz.
    (I found this out when it took me and hour and a half to understand 60 minutes)


  • taxpayer says:

    Produce and make available to the public an audited Profit & Loss statement as well as an income statement. After all, we taxpayers of the City of Wilmington are paying to support this venture.

  • Joshua Fulton says:

    It is publicly available. Thank goodness people like Vog will do a bit of “investigative journalism” (in this case as simple as a google search and a bit of critical thinking), even if simply parroting the city line is good enough for some people.

    I wonder if a city of Wilmington press release is going to save us in another 8 years or so when the city is ABSOLUTELY BROKE!

  • Vog46 says:

    Go to page 119


    “excess of expenditures over revenue?

    They are certainly not self sustaining

  • Guest111 says:

    Good Work Vog

  • jj says:

    I am sure there is a loss or they would not be interested in “They say the room occupancy tax, which funds the center, has increased by ten percent in 2012 and increased almost seven percent this year.”

    The people knew it was going to be a loss before it was ever built. Then council set it up so the books would be hidden.

  • B M says:

    with the Convention Center doing so well what the city of Wilmington needs now is a taxpayer funded Ballpark, Saffo and company can spend taxpayer money faster than water can flow down the Cape Fear

  • Vog46 says:

    I appreciate the compliment -thank you


  • ChefnSurf says:

    (‘Nuff said)

  • SurfCityTom says:

    we should care enough to see the weasels who voted to approve the expenditure and bonds to build this albatross are not re-elected.

    That’s why we should care.

  • Vog46 says:

    I think all we need to do is allow Brunswick county TO BE counted as part of MB’s MSA.
    Without Brunswick’s population, the CC nor the stadium would have been considered for this area as the population would have been considered too small to support either.
    We’re finding that out about the convention center and we prevented a disaster by the stadium vote.

    I have other reasons beside the CC to vote out these clowns


  • Vog46 says:

    I have OTHER reasons to vote these clowns out.


    (If that link doesn’t work, go to city council website and click results for April 2 meeting – items brought by city manager. Its a pdf that will open in a new window))

    ‘Ol Chuck Shoninger got an encroachment for land drainage for the building of the Hotel Indigo.
    Unanimous vote by the way.
    I did note on the drawing that it was done by?
    Catlin Engineers.

    My what a tangled web we weave………


  • SurfCityTom says:

    good research.

    Maybe we need the Pied Piper to step in and clean out the city with his magic pipe.

    Sadly, I think there will be enough voter apathy that the same weasels will be returned to office.

    Unless, Berger decides to run for city council. Last report I saw indicates he is living on Dock Street. Maybe he could be the first to serve on both councils simultaneously.

    Sad to say, you get what you vote for or don’t turn out to vote.

  • Vog46 says:

    Although it’s not even proposed yet tax reform is coming down the pipeline. The general thought process is that they will possibly raise the sales tax, eliminate or reduce the Corporate tax, and reduce or eliminate the state income tax.
    I believe we will end up with no corporate tax, a slightly reduced income tax and a rise in sales tax, but that’s not all.
    They wish to expand, and greatly I might add, the number of services that will be subjected to the sales tax. Accountants, possibly lawyers, tax preparers – all would probably have to charge YOU a tax on their services.
    I have wondered how this would affect other services.
    Would SMG the operator have to charge the city a sales tax on the contract to operate the CC? I believe that outside lawyers(especially) will have to charge the city extra.
    Would a company like NSS when asked by the city to conduct a baseball stadium study have to charge say 8%? That $200K survey is now costing the city $216K.
    Would the convention center have to charge a sales tax for arranging a convention and or meeting? (Do they now?)


  • ChefnSurf says:

    Eliminate corporate tax, reduce income tax and increase sales tax. A blatant attempt to shift the tax burden onto those in society who already have the least.

    Shamefully greedy behavior.

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