Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 30 2013

Major Convention Center Controversy Finds Solution

By David McMillin

javits center

Last month, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City found itself in some not-so-friendly headlines when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would reward the New York Boat Show with more favorable dates. The move displaced other contracted events including the NY International Gift Fair, Business International's MRket Show, Texworld and the Action Sportswear and Street Wear Show, and members of the meetings industry voiced their anger with open letters to the Governor's office.

Now, it looks like the industry's collective outcry paid off. According to a report from Lisa Fickenscher at Crain's, city officials have struck a new deal to move the Boat Show a few days earlier in January and accommodate all the other shows. George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company, announced the compromise at the Crain's tourism summit held in New York on September 25. Alan Steel, CEO of the Javits Center, added that Boat Show organizers are looking at ways to reduce set-up and teardown times, too.

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The agreement is good news for anyone involved in the industry in New York. When the controversy stirred up, members of the trade show group Friends of Javits grew concerned of what other show organizers would make of Gov. Cuomo's unprecedented move.

"By favoring the New York Boat Show, an event that has been declining, other shows could opt to take their business to competitor cities," the organization said.

Expansion or Relocation?

Regardless of what the debacle will mean for future business at the Javits Center, the potential for a Javits expansion has returned to the spotlight. Friends of Javits want Gov. Cuomo to study the industry's needs in New York to help determine whether additional space makes sense.

However, expansion is an understandably delicate topic in the most crowded borough in the most crowded city in the U.S., and plenty of people are concerned about creating more space for conventions in the middle of Manhattan. Robert Yaro is one of them. Yaro is the president of the Regional Plan Association, which conducts research around economic development issues. Yaro's solution? Tear down the Javits Center and build a new, bigger convention center in a less crowded part of New York.

SEE ALSO: A Winning Game Plan for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion

"Other large cities have grappled with these issues," Yaro wrote in a 2012 Crain's op-ed. "In many cases, they have opted to move the trade halls outside the city center. They also have built smaller spaces in town for high-end conferences. New York should do the same."

Have you organized a meeting or trade show in New York? Do you think the city needs a bigger convention center? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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