I live near Sacramento, CA and earlier this week the local Convention Authority held a big deal press conference announcing a "deal" with Jehovah's Witnesses (see clip below). Based on comments to local news media on their websites, more than a few people are not too crazy about the idea....
I heard an interview on a local station where the head guy [of the Convention Authority] was defending (sounded VERY DEFENSIVE) the city's deal with the dubs, by saying "Well, they'll bring hotel dollars, food dollars, and they'll be visiting all of our local museums, evening life, and entertainment attractions.....so the monetary impact will be huge for us..."
As all of us ex-dubs know, we were always SPECIFICALLY DISCOURAGED from doing any of those "extra" things..... Hope those attractions aren't hiring more employees to handle the Witness "Crowds".......
Also, during the interview, he said that the Convention Authority would be able to select the dates for the various conventions. Interesting.
From the Sacramento, CA Business Journal:
Jehovah's Witnesses Agree 5-Year Deal at Sacramento Convention Center
The largest-ever contracted business for the Sacramento Convention Center will bring more than 200,000 delegates to Sacramento during the next five years.
The Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is adding Sacramento as its 83rd city to host annual regional conventions.
The conventions will book eight to 10 weekends each summer for the next five years.
The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau negotiated for over a year to get the business, said Steve Hammond, visitors bureau president.
Sacramento will see about 6,000 people attending each of eight weekend events starting in summer 2010, representing an economic impact of $16 million annually.
The church group will book hotel rooms for the events through the rest of this week, Hammond said. The contract was signed at 10 a.m. Tuesday, including some city help with parking, because the hotels downtown don’t have enough spaces for 6,000. The city typically has lots of empty garages during weekends.
The economic impact of the contract works out to about $75 million, which Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called “great news,” especially in a down economy.
For Sacramento, the bookings are doubly important because they are on weekends and during the summer, often slow periods for Sacramento, Johnson said.
The $16 million economic impact will help the 30,000 employees in the hospitality industry, he said.
“Tourism is big business,” Johnson said, adding that he aims to “build the economic engine to even greater heights.”
The delegates will be from Northern California, Oregon and Northern Nevada. The congregation also has annual meetings in the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Those San Francisco meetings will continue, with Sacramento as an additional location.
Hammond said the contract is for five years, but he anticipates Sacramento will be able to keep the business beyond the five-year contract.
The groups have booked the main floor of the convention center, taking about two-thirds of the space. Other events can still be booked in the rest of the main hall, as well as the upstairs ballroom and separate meeting rooms.