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GBAD Meets More But Boise Centre Sees Too Few Conventions

“You’re only approaching 54 percent of your projected plan."

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Stephanie Astorquia leaned into the microphone at the July 23 meeting of the Greater Boise Auditorium District, telegraphing some exasperation in her voice.

"For the record, I would like to point out that this board has met 31 times this year," said the GBAD secretary-treasurer (the board traditionally meets once a month).

Some of Astorquia's colleagues also expressed their frustration over meetings--or the lack thereof--but they are the kind of meetings that bring income to the local economy.

In fact, Boise Centre Director of Marketing and Sales Cliff Clinger got an earful from the GBAD board for not coming close to the facility's goals to bring in more conventions or meetings to the center.

"This is dramatic," said GBAD Vice Chair Gail May.

Clinger's report came nearly two years after the shit-hit-the-fan moment in September 2010 when GBAD pulled operating funds from the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau, which for years had booked conventions into the Boise Centre. BCVB staff warned of a possible loss of business while the two entities publicly aired their dirty laundry for the better part of a year.

Ultimately, GBAD approved some funds for BCVB, but ordered that marketing duties be split between BCVB and a new team of marketing staff working for the Boise Centre.

Clinger said that, year to date, his Boise Centre team has booked 14 new conventions into the facility, with nine more booked through BCVB.

But GBAD Board Member Rob Perez didn't like what he heard.

"You're only approaching 54 percent of your projected plan," said Perez. "That's well below a negative variance."

Boise Centre Executive Director Pat Rice quickly jumped to Clinger's defense.

"Yes, we're behind, but we're building from scratch," said Rice. "Clearly, Cliff and his team have some work to do."

Clinger had originally planned that 2012 conventions would bring in a total of 48,000 bed nights to Boise-area hotels, but in reality, only 7,000 nights have been booked to date.

"That's a huge difference," said May.

A recent study by Boise State estimated that each convention booked into the Boise Centre generated, on average, more than $1 million into the Treasure Valley economy.

Clinger conceded that his goals may have been too "aggressive."

Without any action on the matter, the GBAD board is expected to hold its 32nd meeting of 2012 in August.

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