In the immortal words of the great sports philosopher, catcher and bad pitch hitter Yogi Berra, “déjà vu, all over again!”
Article “Lancaster County Convention Center woes to trickle down” opens with three self exculpatory and self serving paragraphs and then ‘jumps’ to page A-5 to report the disaster that is about to befall the Lancaster County Tourist Center as its funding is allocated to paying Convention Center debt service.
Here is all the busy readers get to see on the front page:
“When proponents of a downtown convention center unveiled their plans in 1999, they projected 200,000 visitors would come to the city and county annually for events at the facility.
What they didn’t project was the center opening in the longest, toughest economic downturn in nearly a century.
Center managers have responded creatively by opening the two-plus-year-old center to volleyball and cheerleading tournaments, mixed-martial arts bouts and other events far beyond the corporate and trade association meetings originally envisioned.”
Note the artful fabrication of the third paragraph. There is no reference to any Feasibility Study (there never was one until the PKF Report ) nor even to any of the Market Studies to make the point. Instead the assumption is attributed to “proponents”. They must be referring to S. Dale High and the Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. who ended up with a long term lease on the Marriott Hotel and ultimate right to purchase it at a token price , mostly developed at taxpayers costs and risk and exempt from real estate taxes.
Does it matter that the Market Studies unanimously called for a more modest project and the PKF Report, ordered at the last minute by the Commissioners, ridiculed by the press, and ignored by the Lancaster County Convention Center board majority, foretold precisely what was to happen.
Not mentioned in the article is the historic low interest rates that have lightened the financing burden and helped offset any loss of business.
As for “What they didn’t project was the center opening in the longest, toughest economic downturn in nearly a century”, might we remind them of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Let’s see what others say about the impact of the current steep recession on convention center business.
ConventionWord.net rports in “Top Ten Meeting Trends 2011” the following: “Business travel (group and individual) is up in 2011 across Benchmark Hospitality’s portfolio. Booking pace for most properties is outperforming the previous year’s results. Customers remain highly rate conscious and value focused, though, and demand speed – as in fast Internet connectivity!”
It is a sad thing to see the Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. reverting to the same spin, distortion and propaganda that brought the project into existence , overriding the accurate alarms expressed by then Commissioners Dick Shellenberger and Molly Henderson, by knowledgeable volunteers from the general public, and substantiated in the PKF Report.
When will the publisher and editors find the integrity and courage to admit they went astray and apologize to the public?