Convention Center column catches ire of Visitors Bureau

     What’s black, white and critical of Convention Center spending? An Inquirer column by Paul Davies. He wrote last week about the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s $786 million expansion and some persistent nickel-and-diming by labor unions that aren’t helping the projected increase in loss.

    It prompted a letter to the editor from Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau Chairman Nick DeBendictis, who said Davies’s review was “speculative,” “unfair,” and has jeopardized a customer worth $54 million.

    “He’s in his role, I’m in mine,” Davies told NewsWorks in reponse to DeBendictis’ charge that the paper should be rooting for Philadelphia.

    “I’m not on the PR team,” Davies said. “I wrote an opinion column based on facts.”

    DeBendictis wrote, “Now, our sales team needs to go back and resell a convention that is already booked when we should be out selling this spectacular new space, its services, and our thriving city to new customers.”

    Davies said his column wasn’t meant to be a sabotage, just a way to say some issues at the Convention Center have been addressed and some have not. “We report facts and people can do what they want with it,” he said, noting he’s rooting for improved operations at the Center since his tax dollars, too, help funded the expansion.

    Davies said he wasn’t yet aware of an editorial board meeting that Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesperson Liz Sullivan tells NewsWorks is in the works. Sullivan said DeBendictis was unavailable to comment.

    “The staff of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pennsylvania Convention Center, our tourism partners, labor leaders, along with our members and stakeholders, are working their tails off together to ensure that this project delivers the biggest return on investment for everyone,” DeBenedictis wrote in a portion of the letter that was not published in the Inquirer.

    “I don’t think I did anything wrong,” Davies said. “It’s not like I’ve exposed a brand new issue no one knew about.”

    Feed the Feed: Should columnists act as champions for the city?

     

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.