What is it they say about seeing sausage made? Well, that has nothing on watching people sell convention centers to convention holders. Check out this article in the Baltimore Sun. See, the problem there is that the city spent a kajillion dollars on a "world class" convention center. Because everyone wanted to be "major league." Or something. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Convention center officials say it would have worked if only there was a better hotel. Which everyone said private developers would build. Everyone was wrong, of course, so now the city is footing the bill for the $300 million hotel.
So what to do now? How to generate more convention business? Guess.
The city has its work cut out for it. Numbers released in February revealed a major decline in hotel room nights booked for Convention Center conferences in the next few years.
And with so much on the line, the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, of which Noonan is chairman and chief executive officer, has apparently decided that nothing attracts money like money - or at least the perfumed, wined and risotto'd perception of it.
Yeah. The city has a huge bus staffed with a fancy chef. Trying to prove to everyone that Baltimore is world-class and major league. Never mind the fact that the convention center was supposed to do that. That would be nay-saying. So just make some risotto and give it away.
Oh. And this:
Guests each get a pair of Crocs, those rubbery clogs with holes. Crocs go on feet, and in Baltimore, one must remember, "You're two feet away from everything."
I wish I was in charge of marketing. I would send in a guy with a pistol to rob every person in the room. The message being: "This is what we did to taxpayers to build this ridiculous boondoggle." And then I would give them some risotto.
Question: How long until Pittsburgh gets a bus? And when we do get one, will this guy like it?
Jeremy Figoten, who's shopping for a site for the National Apartment Association's 2012 annual meeting, says he really couldn't care less about the spread Baltimore laid before him, or even that the mayor took the time to shake his hand.
"It doesn't really do anything for me," he says.
Figoten wants convention space that will comfortably hold his group, he wants a location that people can easily fly or drive to, he wants nightlife and things to do.
"So far Baltimore has filled all those needs," he says, but then quickly adds - so have many other cities. He hasn't even whittled his list beyond a dozen - everywhere from Las Vegas to Orlando, Fla., to New Orleans.
"Any city can hold a nice lunch," he says. "We're casting a wide net."