Sep 20, 2023 - Culture

WSJ praises San Diego's Convention Center

The San Diego Convention Center outside of Comic-Con International 2023. Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

Improving San Diego's Convention Center has long been near the top of the to-do list for regional leaders, but the Wall Street Journal likes our waterfront facility just the way it is.

Driving the news: In a new ranking of the 30 largest convention centers in the U.S. the San Diego Convention Center came in fourth — trailing only Chicago and two centers in Las Vegas.

Between the lines: The Journal's ranking considered both the quality of the space and amenities —  worth 70% of its rank — and the vibrancy, weather and walkability of the city and surrounding area.

  • San Diego came in first for city and surrounding area rank, and eighth for the size and quality of the convention center itself.

Zoom out: Local officials are still committed to expanding the Convention Center — they've said for years the facility needs to grow or lose major events.

Catch up quick: 65.2% of San Diego voters approved a hotel tax increase in March 2020 to expand the Convention Center and fund some homeless programs and street repairs — but it's still unclear if that was enough voters for the initiative to pass.

  • In August, the state Court of Appeal ruled that Measure C passed — it was the most recent in a series of opinions beginning with a 2017 California Supreme Court decision that determined citizens initiatives can raise taxes with a bare majority. Tax measures put on the ballot by governments still need two-thirds voter approval.
  • But the state Court of Appeal also ruled that the Superior Court needs to determine whether the involvement of a board member of the Convention Center Corp. in the campaign meant the tax increase wasn't really a citizens initiative — in which case it would need to reach the elevated voter threshold.

The bottom line: It's not clear when the lower court will resolve that issue, but nothing is changing with city hotel taxes or the Convention Center until it does.


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