City Leaders Learn About Convention Center Struggles

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(Memphis) Nashville’s new convention center is being called a “game changer,” but in Memphis, finding conventions that the city can accommodate is called a “struggle.”

“I think we are heading towards being functionally obsolete for major convention business in our community convention woes,” said Memphis Convention and Visitor Bureau CEO Kevin Kane.

“The number one reason why people don’t choose Memphis is the lack of large full size hotels and the size and the functionality of our convention center,” Kane added.

Kane was able to outline the difficulties the Memphis Cook Convention Center faces in front of several city council members Tuesday.

“We have 22,000 hotel rooms in Memphis and Shelby county however we only have five hotels that are 300 rooms or larger.When we have a group that is considering Memphis and it’s three or four thousand people, whereas in Nashville or Atlanta they could fit in about a half a dozen hotels, we ‘re looking at 30, 40 hotel properties to accommodate a group that size and we are putting them out as far as Collierville,” explained Kane.

Councilman Shea Flinn said in a study done several years ago projected cost of new convention center would be around $625 million.

There are still 15 years left before the Cook Convention Center is paid off.

Right now, city leaders are planning on looking at possible renovations and ways to attract large hotels.