– 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.