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San Diego Hoteliers Asked to Pay $30 million a Year
for Convention Center Expansion

By Lori Weisberg and Roger Showley, The San Diego Union-Tribune
May 16, 2011

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders called on the city’s hoteliers Thursday to contribute up to $30 million a year through a hotel room surcharge to help finance an expansion of the downtown convention center, a project now estimated to cost 24 percent less than the original $711 million price tag.

In a meeting held in his office, about 30 hotel managers and owners got their first look at the financing plan, which relies on a new hotel room levy that would tack on between 1 percent and 3 percent to guests’ bills, depending on how close or distant the properties are from the bayfront center.

The contributions from the industry, if approved, would be the linchpin of the financing scheme for the expansion, which would add 961,187 square feet of floor area to the nearly 1.8 million-square-foot center. What remains murky, however, is how the city and San Diego Convention Center Corp. will come up with the full $35 million to $38 million that will be needed annually to finance the $550 million project.

Photo by K.C. Alfred

The city of San Diego is seeking the hotel industry's help in financing
a proposed $550 million expansion of the convention center.

“As I have said from the very beginning, the expansion of our convention center should be paid for by those who will benefit from it,” Sanders said. “Given that the hospitality industry stands to gain substantially, it’s only logical that they should fund a significant portion of this.”

Convention Center expansion by the numbers

  • $550 million: Expansion cost, including $115 million to cover unforeseen cost increases
  • 961,187: Additional gross square footage (the center currently occupies 1,763,876 square feet)
  • 225,000: Added square footage for exhibit space
  • 100,101: Additional square footage for meeting rooms
  • 80,000: Additional square footage for new ballroom
  • $35 million to $38 million: Annual cost to pay off 30-year bonds
  • $28 million to $30 million: Projected annual revenue from proposed hotel surcharge, with the remaining financing coming from restaurant and taxi patrons and other sources.
  • 1 percent to 3 percent: Surcharge on hotel bills, depending on distance from convention center.

For the rest of the story please visit:


Lori Weisberg, Staff Writer
San Diego Union-Tribune
350 Camino de la Reina
San Diego, CA  92102

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