by Andrew Crisp
Following a morning-long work session, the six elected officials of the Greater Boise Auditorium District board heard preliminary details this afternoon from a study on the economic impact generated by the downtown convention space, the Boise Centre.
The presentation came from two Boise State economists, Professor Donald Holley of the Department of Business and Economics and Patrick Shannon, dean of that department.
Patrick Rice, executive director of the Boise Centre, used this weekend's Ironman 70.3 triathlon as an example of a generator of downtown business, with the event drawing thousands in 2011.
"Many people visiting from out of town turn the trip into a vacation," said Rice.
The data suggest that travelers directly associated with Boise Centre conventions spend a lot of money on lodging, food, shopping and other activities—perhaps as much as $25 million per year.
The resulting study could help shape the actions of GBAD as they approach the thorny issue of a new convention space in the Treasure Valley, an idea they've grappled with for years. But the study's authors cautioned that the results would never be perfectly precise.
"I want to highlight that these are estimates," said Shannon. "These are not precise economic impact numbers. They can only be as precise as the inputs."
The economists head back to the drawing board for another revision, after concerns were raised.