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Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch Speaks at the Greater Miami
 & the Beaches Hotel Association's Annual Meeting

By Hannah Sampson, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

October 02, 2010 --Two things that should be on the wish list for Miami Beach hotels: a bigger and better city convention center and a spiffier football stadium, Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch told the 400 tourism leaders gathered Friday for the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association's annual meeting.

The mood at the meeting was generally optimistic, thanks to an overall increase in South Florida visitors and hotel rates that have crept slightly higher.

"There is so much going for you here," Tisch said, singling out the annual Art Basel Miami Beach show and the new Frank Gehry-designed campus of the New World Symphony, opening in January.

But, he warned, the Miami Beach Convention Center needs upgrades to keep the city competitive as a destination for big shows and conventions.

This summer, city leaders got an estimated price tag of at least $500 million to upgrade.

"I would implore you to get behind the notion of an expanded and renovated facility," he said.

Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants, also talked football. This year's Super Bowl was a boost to South Florida hotels, but NFL executives warned that the region could lose future games to cities with updated stadiums.

The Miami Dolphins floated a plan earlier this year to raise the limit on Miami-Dade's bed tax aimed at funding upgrades to Sun Life Stadium.

That plan was put on hold.

Tisch -- who told the crowd that he is friends with Miami Dolphins' majority owner Stephen Ross -- didn't bring up taxes, but mentioned the NFL's concern about the stadium and ability to host future events.

"It's incumbent upon everybody to work together to make sure you have the ability to attract those events," he said.

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Copyright (c) 2010, The Miami Herald

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