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Update on the proposed expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center

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This Baltimore Business Journal article provides an update on the proposed expansion to the Baltimore Convention Center, the update is the expansion will not occur due to the current cost estimate of expansion which is estimated to be more than $1.5 billion, much more than the previously announced estimate of $600 million:

https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/02/04/baltimore-convention-center-expansion-plans-scaled.html

Plans for an upgrade to the Baltimore Convention Center are headed back to the drawing board after officials discovered an expansion would cost more than $1.5 billion to complete as envisioned.

The eye-popping price tag was driven upward by the projected costs of infrastructure work and acquisition of the privately owned Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel site, both of which figured in to a conceptualization of the center unveiled in 2018.

Board members for the Maryland Stadium Authority, the group tasked with providing independent analysis and cost estimates for the project, voted Tuesday to develop a new round of concept designs for the center, which are expected to be released by the end of 2020. The Baltimore City Convention Center Capital Improvement Reserve Fund will pay for the design work, which is projected to cost $400,000.

The focus will be on modernizing the convention center rather than expanding its footprint as widely as originally anticipated, Gary McGuigan, senior vice president of the stadium authority's capital projects development group, told board members. The request to scale back the project was made by Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young and a group of stakeholders including the Greater Baltimore Committee, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore Development Corp., Visit Baltimore and the convention center's leadership, stadium authority officials said.

A stadium authority market and economic study released in 2018 envisioned expanding the center to incorporate 400,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space. A follow-up due diligence study found the addition would require space from the Sheraton Hotel site as well as the southbound lane of Charles Street.

When officials dug deeper into the costs of the project, they found the total added up to more than $1.5 billion, McGuigan said. That represents more than double a prior $600 million cost estimate. Infrastructure work on Charles Street alone would cost between $150 million to $160 million, he added, due to the vast network of utilities under the road's surface.

Tourism officials have repeatedly called on the city to move the project forward, citing a decline in convention business due to competition from neighboring cities with newer and larger facilities. Baltimore will lose its biggest booking, the Natural Products Expo East, to Philadelphia this year. Otakon, another event drawing thousands of participants and yielding millions of dollars in annual economic impact, left for Washington, D.C. in 2017.

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Thanks for the info!  So sad though, I was hoping Otakon might be going back to Baltimore sometime.  It was so much fun to have two vacations at the same time:  Otakon AND Baltimore's Inner Harbor.  Looks like that'll just be a dream now.  :(

    

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It's like the arena. The political stars will not align any time soon, not as long as the city has other, more pressing issues.

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This will never happen, and even if it does Otakorp will not take Otakon back to Baltimore... Stop giving people false hope.

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They might not get Otakon back, but maybe...just maybe...the BCC will be able to land some other anime convention.  I certainly wouldn't mind having another excuse to visit Charm City again.

Edited by Zeeba Neighba
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23 hours ago, GasparAKAShiggitay said:

This will never happen, and even if it does Otakorp will not take Otakon back to Baltimore... Stop giving people false hope.

They specifically didn't rule it out should BCC have the room for it. But that said, I doubt we'll see work being done there any time soon.

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On 2/5/2020 at 1:59 PM, GasparAKAShiggitay said:

This will never happen, and even if it does Otakorp will not take Otakon back to Baltimore... Stop giving people false hope.

I wouldn't say never, but it does seem like Otakorp's fear that the BCC renovation would interfere with Otakon is proving to be even worse than imagined.

"We're losing all our big convention contracts to other cities because the BCC isn't good enough!"  "Okay, so how about we fix it by doing nothing?"

Edited by DeathJester
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16 hours ago, DeathJester said:

I wouldn't say never, but it does seem like Otakorp's fear that the BCC renovation would interfere with Otakon is proving to be even worse than imagined.

"We're losing all our big convention contracts to other cities because the BCC isn't good enough!"  "Okay, so how about we fix it by doing nothing?"

lol that jab... and yeah I agree.. Baltimore isn't helping Otakorp wanting to move back there... I'd love for Otakon to move back, but I'm really starting to like DC. It's a more modern city and it's more appealing than Baltimore is now... #RIPMcKeldinFountain

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I will never like DC more than Baltimore. Baltimore's Harbor and the area in general was a significant reason why I loved Otakon. Now its in boring, gray, DC surrounded by nothing but boring gray buildings. I went to Otakon in DC the first year and havent been back since.  Atmosphere means a lot to me and the atmosphere just isnt the same anymore. I even liked the old building better. I dont understand the complaints. Cons are always crowded, so what. Ugh. Why DC. Nothing else was available lol?

 

Rant over. 

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On 2/28/2020 at 12:08 AM, Nycanimechick said:

 I dont understand the complaints. Cons are always crowded, so what.

Way back in 2013, the lower floor was so crowded that it took me a good 10 minutes to get from Video 1 to the escalators - a distance of, what, 300 feet? It looked a little like the picture attached. That's not the first time something like that happened in Baltimore, but that was my worst experience. I've never had that issue in the 3 years in DC.

Picture 163a.jpg

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@Nycanimechick It doesn't seem like you've ever been to a crowded con before like what Otakon was back at the Baltimore Convention Center until we left there in 2016 (our last year there before moving to DC the following year)... @Revan posts a good representation of how annoying it could be to get from one part of the con center to another during peak hours. I miss the BCC dearly, but the WEWCC is awesome too.

EDIT: I just went back and read @Nycanimechick's complete post @Revan quoted a portion of... Sure Otakon now takes places literally in the middle of a huge city, but it's safer than Baltimore.. You can wander off into the city without TOO much worry (I don't know DC too well, so I dunno where the worst areas are) of hitting an area where you could end up being in trouble. The Inner Harbor is safe, but should you wander out to areas around it like Fells Point I think it is it apparently can get dicey. I can understand the atmosphere aspect of it.. I did love the Inner Harbor area as much as you must have, but to each their own I guess...

Edited by GasparAKAShiggitay

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19 hours ago, Revan said:

Way back in 2013, the lower floor was so crowded that it took me a good 10 minutes to get from Video 1 to the escalators - a distance of, what, 300 feet? It looked a little like the picture attached. That's not the first time something like that happened in Baltimore, but that was my worst experience. I've never had that issue in the 3 years in DC.

If the fountain was the only bottleneck in the BCC then I wouldn't have minded the crowds.

Unforunately Otakon grew so big that there was worst bottlenecks by BOTH Skybridge connections, the entrance escalator to the dealers room, panel room queues, autograph line queues, etc.  I think Baltimore was a better host city than DC because all the entire Harbor area bent over backwards to accommodate the convention guests, but the BCC itself is straight trash once you get past ~25000 daily attendees.

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14 hours ago, DeathJester said:

If the fountain was the only bottleneck in the BCC then I wouldn't have minded the crowds.

Unfortunately Otakon grew so big that there was worst bottlenecks by BOTH Skybridge connections, the entrance escalator to the dealers room, panel room queues, autograph line queues, etc.  I think Baltimore was a better host city than DC because all the entire Harbor area bent over backwards to accommodate the convention guests, but the BCC itself is straight trash once you get past ~25000 daily attendees.

Yeah the BCC is great. I really hope that ==IF== they actually tear it down and redo it it can accommodate AT LEAST 100,000 people like how the WEWCC can in DC. I think I remember reading that AwesomeCon, that takes place at the same con center Otakon is at now had something like 80,000 attendees and it wasn't super crowded.. The BCC needs to be rebuilt to support that. I'd love for Otakon to go back to Baltimore, but I don't think that'll happen any time soon, sad to say. I think we were close to 30k attendees in 2019, and I bet this year it'll soar to 35k+. Back in 2013 the BCC was barely able to hold the 33,900 or so of us when Yoko Kanno came to town for her Sunday concert... That was nuts.

Edited by GasparAKAShiggitay

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I think I'm one of the few left here remember when Otakon used to go from hotel to hotel before it settled at a convention center. Honestly, I kind of miss the old days when taking a break from the con was just a simple elevator ride to the floor where my room was. The con had that intimate feel to it for both guests and attendees alike.

All that changed dramatically when the con started to get stuffed  to the seams when it still used only the hotels.

I had my doubts when it moved to the BCC, but having all that extra elbow room was real nice, until the attendance numbers started to explode, especially from the "not so nice" new generation of attendees.

Anyway, I';m going off topic here, so let me just say that the BCC haven't changed, but the rest of the Inner Harbor area did, and not exactly for the better.  I also had my doubts about the WEWCC the same way I did when the con settled at the BCC, but now I'm getting used to the surrounding area.

I don't know about anyone else, but I really don't think Otakon will get any better if it did move back.

 

 

 

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