In November 2009, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority launched its Top 5 Campaign, a long-term initiative to make Boston a Top 5 destination in the North American convention and meetings industry. To help steward and study this process, legislative leaders formed The Convention Partnership, a diverse 27-member group of stakeholders. After more than 18-months of study, the Convention Partnership issued its Final Report.

Four important themes emerge from these findings and recommendations:

  • We have the ingredients to become an even stronger "Top 5" player in the national conventions and meetings marketplace and a major international player.
  • Tourism and hospitality have been consistently powerful components of the Commonwealth’s economy and should be acknowledged and included in discussions about job creation and economic development policy.
  • Boston and Massachusetts should build on the valuable tourism benefits derived from meetings and conventions by embracing a "tourism plus" strategy, leveraging events to support other key economic sectors including life sciences, medical, high tech, finance and education.
  • Implementing the Convention Partnership’s recommendations will provide much needed short-term construction jobs and long-term permanent hospitality industry jobs.

The Recommendations :

  • Recommendation 1
    Immediate steps should be taken to increase the supply of hotels near the BCEC, including steps to encourage a second headquarters hotel with 1,000 to 1,200 rooms, mid-priced hotels, and expansion of the existing Westin headquarters hotel.
  • Recommendation 2
    To determine private sector interest in developing a new headquarters hotel, an RFP should be issued.
  • Recommendation 3
    To encourage mid-priced hotel development in the South Boston Waterfront, the MCCA, the City, Massport and the neighborhoods should develop a strategy.
  • Recommendation 4
    There should be further discussions with the owners of the existing Westin hotel about potential expansion of the hotel.
  • Recommendation 5
    Expansion of the BCEC should not commence until there are definitive plans in place to increase the hotel supply proximate to the BCEC.
  • Recommendation 6
    The priorities for BCEC expansion are, first, to add a second, larger multipurpose/ ballroom space, and second, to expand the exhibit space.
  • Recommendation 7
    BCEC expansion components should be sized appropriately, based on market demand, costs and benefits, site constraints, and other objective considerations rather than matching or exceeding the sizes of competitors’ facilities.
  • Recommendation 8
    Expanded exhibit space at the BCEC should be located at the south end of the existing BCEC site, should be contiguous to the existing space, and should be accompanied by the proportionate amount of meeting room space. The second multipurpose/ballroom space should be located to the east (D Street) side of the BCEC, or on top of the expanded exhibit space to the south, should be substantially larger in area than the existing multipurpose/ballroom space, and should be accessible to the existing BCEC as well as any expanded exhibit space.
  • Recommendation 10
    Expansion of the BCEC—including expansion of the proximate hotel supply—should be consistent with plans for development of the South Boston Waterfront area, including urban design guidelines, open space plans, and transportation plans.
  • Recommendation 11
    Planning for BCEC expansion should be open and inclusive, with participation from neighborhood residents, elected officials and other stakeholders encouraged.
  • Recommendation 12
    As expansion of the BCEC is further explored, consideration should also be given to strategic investment in other components of the Commonwealth’s important—but often overlooked—tourism and hospitality sector.
  • Recommendation 13
    To leverage the impact of the major events hosted by the MCCA, additional steps should be taken to connect these events to Massachusetts companies and institutions, to showcase our local assets and encourage growth and investment.
  • Recommendation 14
    The following options for supporting bonds issued to finance expansion have been identified, but a specific financing plan for BCEC expansion is beyond the scope of theb Convention Partnership’s mandate, and is more appropriately a subject for the state legislature to consider:
    1. Remaining capacity of the Convention Center Fund, 2. Incremental tax revenues from expansion, 3. "Capturing" more of existing hotel occupancy tax revenues, 4. Changing hotel occupancy tax rates, 5. Adjustments to existing Convention Center Fund—district boundaries, revenue mix, or other terms, 6. Revenue sources other than traditional, tourism-related revenues.
  • Recommendation 15
    The MCCA’s Board of Directors, together with the appropriate state officials from the executive branch, should consider moving forward with the identified “initial implementation steps” while other issues requiring longer-term commitments and substantially more funding are under consideration.

The recommendations have been sent to Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, State Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo for their consideration and further study. For updates on the Top 5 campaign, go to the T5 News Archive

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Convention Partnership

Final Report
2010 Interim Report

This initiative allows the Commonwealth to plan for the future even when times are tough. By building on our strenghs as a destination now, we can bolster opportunities for jobs, long term economic growth and business development in the future." - Governor Deval Patrick, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The ideas and goals of this initiative demonstrate to the world that we have unlimited confidence in our city and what it can do, not only as a convention destination but as the center of the most important trends in hospitality, science, health and education. This is a great idea coming at the absolutely right time. - Mayor Thomas M. Menino, City of Boston

Globalization is a long-term, ongoing trend that will be unfettered by economic cycles. Businesses, cities and meetings' industry all need a strategy, and this is ours.

Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
415 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210

phone: 617.954.2000
fax: 617.954.2299

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