The snowjob to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is bad enough. Worse is that most of the legislators on Beacon Hill are falling for it.
The House overwhelmingly passed a $1.1 billion expansion bond last week. The Senate is scheduled to take up the legislation Thursday, after trimming $110 million from it over concerns of a giveaway to hotel developers.
President Therese Murray is a strong supporter of the expansion. So strong, in fact, that in a speech last month before the Boston Chamber of Commerce, she quoted verbatim the talking points of Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Jim Rooney, who says the expansion will vault the state into the top five convention destinations in the country and create thousands of jobs and $184 million of additional economic impact every year.
Calling it “critical” to support the expansion, Murray boasted it will make Massachusetts “a player on the world stage.” But all the available evidence suggests it’s highly unlikely that Massachusetts will be a player of that magnitude. It is much more likely we will get a white elephant.
The bump-out would increase the center’s exhibition space from 516,000 square feet to about 850,000 square feet. That would still pale in comparison to the 2.6 million square feet in Chicago’s McCormick Place, the 2 million square feet in convention centers in Orlando and Las Vegas, and the dozen or so other centers around the country with a million-plus square feet.
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