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– After Buffalo lost out on a convention because of its not-so-great Main Street, I asked if Rochester faces the same issue. Our Main Street is no paradise. As one businessman told me, “There are no palm trees growing at Midtown.”

The head of the Rochester Riverside Convention Center says while Main Street’s condition is a concern, it hasn’t hurt business. People book the convention center for the cost, amenities and abundance of nearby hotel rooms. If they’re looking for a Manhattan experience, they’ll go to Manhattan. If they’re looking for a nice, large, reasonably-priced event space, they’ll come to Rochester.

For example, two thousand high school students from around the state will attend a conference at the convention center this week. The organizers like that the event is self-contained. They like that there’s no empty Midtown for the kids to explore.

What do the numbers say? <Click here for spreadsheet.>

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, 243,000 people visited the convention center. That’s down 14 percent from the average attendance of the decade before. But attendance started to slip when the recession started and it’s on the way up again. Looking at the history of convention center attendance since it opened in 1985, there were scattered down years. The data simply doesn’t show any connection to Main Street’s fortunes.

I’m glad the convention center is holding its own. It does get a $1.5 million annual taxpayer subsidy, but it’s a community asset and its events contribute a lot more money to the economy. It’s a beautiful, well-maintained facility.

That said, no one from the mayor on down is happy with our Main Street right now. Mayor Tom Richards said today it could be a decade before Midtown is built up. That’s a long time.

– The church once led by the late Rev. Raymond Graves owns a house that’s a haven for drugs and criminal activity, according to the city.

– Chicago was shocked to discover Jean-Claude Brizard favors giving public money to private schools.

– The death of DSL (if it dies), could mean much pricier broadband plans with data caps. Ultimately, data caps could limit how much TV we watch online, keeping the cable guys in business.

– This will make you not want to order popcorn at the movies.

5 Responses to Convention Biz Okay

  1. March 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm James Simons responds:

    I am one person who never complains over the price of concessions at the theater. Having studied the business of the film industry, it is concessions where most theaters make their profit from. Unless a film is very successful and goes beyond a normal run, the theater rarely makes money from showing it. The profits from concessions are needed to cushion the blow of flops that leave the theaters in a matter of weeks.

  2. Rochester convention center is the most handicap accessible place to go.

  3. March 7, 2012 at 12:15 am Rick Hannon responds:

    Joe Floreano, a gentleman of the first order and the director of the Convention Center, is one of the best managers I have ever worked with. He sets high performance standards, achieves them consistently, and has done so for many years. I have attended many functions at the RRCC, and NEVER been disappointed with any aspect of the facility or its operations. (It has also been the rare event that I’ve attended at which Joe himself has not been present and very visible. The man works hard.)

    • March 7, 2012 at 8:02 am Rachel responds:

      I was impressed he gave me the attendance figures within 10 minutes of my asking. No FOILs or anything.

  4. March 7, 2012 at 5:46 am JAMES PEROTTI responds:


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