Is the General Assembly fiddling while Baltimore burns? That disturbing possibility has crossed the minds of some city officials after hearing bad news from the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association: The city's convention business could be off $60 million next year, and without help from Annapolis on building a much bigger meeting hall, Baltimore could see even worse revenue drops in the future.
The simple fact is that Baltimore has been overtaken as a convention venue by such cities as Philadelphia; Charlotte, N.C.; Orlando, Fla., and Atlanta, which are expanding or have recently enlarged their meeting sites to accommodate bigger conferences. Baltimore no longer has the meeting space to host larger and more lucrative conventions. It is fast losing market share.
This sorry situation has been predicted for several years, and all that time legislators in Annapolis have resisted endorsing a plan to double the size of the convention center. They reluctantly agreed to spend money to design and plan the addition, but haven't committed a dime to actually build this extra space.