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"I also like his use of "We are told..." By whom? I bet it's the people who design and build convention center hotels. Hint to the Mayor's office: Get a second opinion. And while you're at it, get a second opinion about the convention center."

Seems you are the prototypical voice of Pittsburgh, railing against whatever, with no sense of facts nor inclination for progress.

I'm in the convention business, although in no way affiliated with the Lawrence CC or any local political apparatus. As part of my job, I'm often asked to recommend cities to clients who are looking for the right "fit" for their events.

So it's with that experience that I can tell you the "whom" of which Cox speaks are meeting planners, operations managers and CXOs at companies that might bring their events here.

You can have a legitimate arguement about whether the hotel should be publicly funded, but not the concept of having one next to the convention center. That argument has no basis.

The reasons for a connected hotel are many: exhibitors demand convenient hospitality suites and walkable offsite meeting rooms. They also prefer the ability to get back and forth to their rooms quickly. And they don't want to have to walk through a casino every single time they come or go.

Any city can tell you that. Well, except Cleveland. The downtown Cleveland convention center is an industry joke at this point because of its run-down condition, which is where our old convention center was headed. I have told clients to consider downtown Detroit over downtown Cleveland, which should give you an indication how bad it is. And Cleveland's I-X Center by Hopkins is often not under consideration because there is no attached hotel. Major exhibiting companies don't want to do business there. And attendees simply don't want to get on shuttle buses at the end of a long day if they can avoid it.

As to the hotel occupancy rates - for that I blame the CVB for booking too many SMERF (Social, Military, Educational, Religious, Fraternal) meetings at Lawrence. Yes, you need to keep the center full, but many of these SMERF groups won't pay more than $49 per night, and they'll happily stay in Cranberry at the Super8. Seems to me that rather than spend more time selling to the best mix of events, our CVB has simply taken whatever events were interested in coming here. Pittsburgh insecurity again?

As a side note, if Oronato is seriously considering the idea that a casino hotel will help the convention center, then he must be considering only the Mellon Arena site, because no other site would have any impact whatsoever to meeting planners who do the shopping for venues. At least the Mellon site is a walkable distance, albeit not a particularly pleasant one at the moment.

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