Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Central Canada Comic Con and the Conventions
Me as Rorschach and my friend Wonder Woman
Halloween weekend and Central Canada Comic Con all on the same weekend. It certainly makes for a costume friendly weekend.
Sad to see the downtown explode in shootings and stabbings once again because there was quite a lot going that was peaceful and fun. It is quite ridiculous when you think about how someone's checklist for Halloween goes like this: Booze, drugs, gun, knife. Check! ready for my night out!
If this is left unchecked, it won't long before some people make a decision about going to a Winnipeg Jets game, convention center show, Concert Hall outing or The Forks based on fearing that they will be killed in their cars.
It will be useless telling people that perception is not the reality.
The reality is that we will surpass our murder rate this year. The reality is that shots are being fired and stabbings are occurring. Everything and I do mean everything should be done to prevent protect the population from this unsettling trend.
Anyway, I won't try to spin this story about how good things are. Suffice to say, I want to go downtown to Jets games, conventions and plays. I am demanding that things be better. And yes I am looking at you Mr. Mayor and you Mr. Premier.
Anyways, back to the convention that I attended...
For those interested in knowing, there were many people from very young to very old at the Winnipeg Convention Centre enjoying Central Canada Comic Con. Since 2006, it has taken off and thousands are in attendance. I suspect it will only get bigger.
There were some stars from TV and film present for autographs and question and answer not the least of which was William Shatner.
Met Kevin Sorbo who seems to be a genuinely good guy.
There were so many excellent costumes and activities that it was enough to keep most people engaged for hours. Wonderful show and you know it will only get better.
It is the type of show the Convention Centre has been doing so well over the years. Home show, car show, boat show. Literally thousands of people who generally don't go downtown for a host of reasons go to the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
I am not an expert on the economic activity generated by a Convention Centre. It is probably lots and although the costs are high to build them, I think they are worth it so long as they have the tools to generate some cash for their operations. Parkades can make money after the initial huge start up costs.
It is curious to note that developers are keen on buying parkades. There is high interest in Portage Place's parkade to spur a tower. This isn't a bad idea but CentreVenture should hold off till they get a commitment for both towers to be built on west and east side before selling. They should not think of this as losing a revenue generator in the parkade but getting seed money for further projects.
This weekend's convention had two decks of parking lot filled. It had every food service counter filled to capacity and probably more could have done business.
I think more revenue has to come from services provided from the Convention Center. It should have more restaurants, concessions and the like.
The plan for expansion that I have talked about here includes a hotel. This is a good thing and should be thought about in terms of how it can create further revenue and support for the convention center.
The Convention Center has been isolated too long from the rest of the downtown or Broadway by a selfish province that thought nothing about having huge surface parking lots spread out all around and no plan for doing better. Those parking lots were owned by the province and any thought of developing them till this year was rejected.
Here's hoping that enough vision is in place to try and make what works in the city work better and stop working at cross purposes.