Selling Sacramento, CA Convention Deal to Skeptical Public

by dannyboy 22 Replies latest jw friends

  • Jankyn

    Here's the pimp---oops, press---release from the Sac Bee today:

    Jehovah's Witnesses conventions to boost Sacramento economy

    A wave of Northern California Jehovah's Witnesses is coming to Sacramento in the largest convention booking in the city's history.

    For eight weekends a year starting next summer, up to 6,000 delegates will bring a measure of relief to the region's recession-weary hotels and restaurants.

    The five-year run is expected to bring a total of 200,000 convention delegates and $75 million in economic impact, said Mike Testa, spokesman for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.

    "It's really going to trickle down to a lot of different folks in the hospitality industry," he said.

    Landing the Jehovah's Witnesses was considered so monumental that Mayor Kevin Johnson joined convention bureau officials at a press conference earlier this week to make the announcement.

    Testa said the timing is especially fortunate because most Sacramento hotels earn the majority of their revenue during the workweek, when visitors come for state business. The vacancy rates climb on weekends, he said.

    What's more, the Jehovah's Witnesses have agreed to schedule their conventions on those weekends when the Sacramento Convention Center is available.

    "They'll come on the weekends we need them to," Testa said. The gatherings will be held between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

    He said attendees generally bring their own lunches but will buy breakfast and dinner in town.

    Next year's events will include five gatherings for English-speaking members and three for Spanish speakers. The English-speaking meetings will draw up to 6,000 members; the Spanish-speaking ones will draw up to 5,300.

    While the deal with Sacramento lasts five years, Testa said the Jehovah's Witnesses typically extend the commitment beyond the initial contract.

    Area hotels have taken their share of hits during the recession. Consulting firm PKF Hospitality Research says room occupancy in the region will drop 12 percent this year. PKF said average room rates are dropping about 8.5 percent from last year, to $95.52 a night.

    The region's leisure and hospitality industry, which includes hotels and restaurants, has eliminated 5,000 jobs in greater Sacramento in the past year, or nearly 6 percent of the total.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses holds regional conventions in 82 cities; Sacramento will become the 83rd. Delegates will come from as far away as the Oregon border.

  • Jankyn

    Might also want to point out that the restaurants in the area aren't really low-end (except for the one deli across the street from the Sheraton). They have to walk several blocks up K Street (past the hipsters and the homeless) to get to a Subway or a taqueria. Most of the local "entertainment district" tends toward the high-end: The Cosmopolitan, the Esquire Grill (where the Governator likes to get his beef), the Broiler, Spataro's...all high-end places. Go east, toward Midtown, and there's a PF Chang's, a Mikuni sushi place, the Capitol Garage (upscale hangout for musical hipsters), the Park complex (combo nightclub and high-end eatery), and an upscale Irish bar (it's new and I haven't been in yet). Then there's the new California Pizza Kitchen, but eh, not cheap. The Denny's is waaaaay down J Street next to the Interstate (and Old Sacramento).

    But I'll tell ya, when the JWs are in town, those will be the cheapest suits that area's seen for awhile. It's a high-profile hangout for politicos and lobbyists.

    As for hotels, the cheapest in the area are a Comfort Inn (on I Street), runs about $100 a night and has homeless guys sleeping in the corners. Then there's the Clarion and the Holiday Inn Express over by the Governor's mansion, but those are over $150 a night. I know both the Sheraton and the Hyatt Regency, the two hotels in the convention center complex, are not cheap. There's a Best Western over at 10th & I, and I don't know about it's pricing, but the nearest "cheap" hotels/motels are in an area frequented by the homeless, over near the Loaves and Fishes/Salvation Army corridor. I usually put my Mom in the Clarion (mostly because it's got a nice view of the newly-restored Governor's mansion as well as a restaurant on-site and a Starbucks across the street, so she doesn't have to wander around in an iffy neighborhood if she wants something).

    I live 4 blocks from the convention center in a converted Victorian (my cat loves the window seats).

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    Somebody said that the Cow Palace in SF will continue, but the numbers don't add up, IMO.

    If there's 8-10 weekends in Sac, that's more than the Cow Palace ever did.

    The Cow Palace is history, IMO. Management has been making life progressively harder for the poor JWs in the last few years from what I've heard.

    That really sucks. I prefer SF, even though it's in a ghetto, to SAC any day.

    Maybe we should just stop going!


  • zarco

    There is not free parking anywhere close to the Convention Center. It is surprising to me that the WTBTS would do this. Parking is very expensive in the area, ranging from about $12 to $30/day. They do have light rail that runs about a block away, so maybe the Witnesses will park elsewhere and ride the light rail in. If the WTBTS can negotiate decent rates at the Hyatt, Sheraton and Marriott - all within a block of the Convention Center - the Witnesses will still have to pay for parking. And if they do not use the downtown hotels and negotiate deals with the hotels out in Rancho then most will use Hotwire or Priceline and stay in the downtown hotels which messes up the "comp room" numbers.

    It indeed will be interesting......


  • zarco

    Open mind,

    Downtown and Midtown Sacto will surprise you. Since the Capital is so close and the lobbyists in California are so numerous the restaurants in the area are outstanding. The park around the Capital is nice. And if you want a really long walk (20 blocks), you can go from the Convention Center toward Midtown and all the way to McKinley Park, which is very nice. Along the way you will see many Victorian homes, many of which are fully restored. Past McKinley Park is the fabulous 40s – a wonderful area with beautiful homes and small shops.


  • OnTheWayOut

    Visiting the local museums and entertainment attractions?

    As WTW said, they eat dinner, go back to their rooms, and use the swimming pool or watch the "time vacuum" in their room. The statement is not false because a very small portion of them will take vacation and arrive on Thursday to visit a museum. The only real boost in the local economy beyond the hotels is the grocer and the restaurants.

    Up to 6,000 delegates? Each weekend? That sounds a bit exaggerated. It might be true, but that means the dubs are traveling from a wide area and that means they will have less money to spend locally. As already mentioned, they are not generally college grads so the hotel and the food costs and putting something in the bucket to cover the "deficit" is all they can afford. The eight weekends a year, five year figure of expected attendees of 200,000 averages to 5000 per weekend.

    I don't know about conventions in 82 cities with this being the 83rd. It sounds like BS to me. They will need to cancel or scale back somewhere else. The way this is stated, it gives the impression that the JW's have grown in the area by approximately 40,000.
    Open Mind: The Cow Palace is history, IMO. That's probably the real case here.

    The hotels downtown don't have enough spaces for 6,000. Yeah, each JW comes with his own car. That shows that the spin is on convincing everyone how big this is. Divide that number by 3 and it might be closer- 2,000 cars. Even that sounds too high for a convention. If they do have to pay for parking every night, the number of cars will reduce after the first year. Some will sacrifice the car and pool it so they can afford the better restaurants within walking distance. The numbers are all guesses and we know better than the people who published those numbers.

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    To zarco:

    I'm still not so sure about Sac. I've heard there's lots of "apostate activity" there.

    Seriously. A long-time elder told me that. I'm sure it was statistically sound. Not.

    Who knows, I might bump into you on the street and "666" will flash in both of our eyes!

    Thanks for the local info.


  • zarco

    Open mind -

    I stare at all the faces on the street for the flashing "666" and have not been able to spot you yet :)


  • Barb Michaels
    Barb Michaels

    They won't visit any local attractions. They'll fill the streets with their brand of hatred. I work about 4 blocks from the convention center. This is a nightmare. Can we organize protests during the conventions? I picture signs warning of Child Molesters, Child Abusers, Bigots...the list goes on.

  • smiddy

    Welcome to the board Barb Michaels from OZ fill us in about yourself when you are comfortable enough to do so.

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