Jefferson City does not come to the conference center issue blind. We spent lots of taxpayer dollars to learn about this complicated idea. We should keep in mind several important principals and not start all over as if we have not learned anything.
Experts have confirmed several basic principals that we all know instinctively.
We have one thing that no other cities in Missouri has: a Capitol and all the energy and politicking that goes with it. All objective data shows that our target guests are the hundreds of state wide associations and public employee groups that now cannot meet in Jefferson City because we have no facility big enough to accomodate them. Any successful conference center must access this base. The graduations, boat shows and music concerts will fill in the rest of the schedule.
In addition, we know that any site that must shuttle guests to the Capitol, the Truman Building, the Supreme Court and other vibrant state hot spots will not succeed, and it will not leverage our only advantage over competing convention cities in the state.
Furthermore, any site that does not have ancillary hotel rooms within walking distance will not be competitive. In order for a conference center to be successul it must have convention quality hotel rooms attached, or within a very short distance from the center. Tell a meeting planner that most of their guests will have to go back and forth from the main hotel by shuttle, and the planner is going to look elsewhere.
Finally, we all know that when we go to a conference and spend eight hours in meetings and seminars we want to get out and do something in the city where we've landed. These evening activies unusualy center around dining, adult beverages and entertainment. Guests do not want to drive or take a shuttle back and forth to these venues. They want to walk.
City leaders should understand that one way for the Jefferson City project to fall on its face is to locate it where meeting planners are told that important state offices, hotel rooms and other amenities will be available only by . . .
. . . . shuttle.
The city council should not just look at the econmics of putting a box on a lot and declaring victory. The council should look at a site that will leverage our advantage as the Capital City, and a site that will accomplish multiple planning objectives over time.
Any proposal that depends on shuttles should be rejected outright.