The Boston Globe
technology writer Hiawatha Bray reports today that Framingham, Mass.-based IDG World Expo — coordinator of the Macworld Conference & Expo trade show —
is being lobbied
by politicians and businesspeople in Boston to return the event to its home town beginning in 2004.
After nearly a decade and a half serving as Macworld Expo’s east coast home, Boston lost Macworld Expo to New York City in the late 90s. Downtown chaos caused by the Big Dig construction project exacerbated an already bad situation — the event had to be split between two venues because there wasn’t a convention center big enough to host the show, and hotel rooms in Boston were both scarce and expensive. Since then, Macworld Expo’s summer event has been held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
Since Macworld Expo moved to the Big Apple, construction has begun on a “super convention center” in Boston as the city and business investors have poured millions into renovating commercial and industrial zones in South Boston. The Big Dig’s end is in sight, and the city’s hotel room capacity has increased by some 3,000 rooms. Boston’s new convention center — twice the square footage of the Javits Center and larger even than Macworld Expo’s West Coast home, San Francisco’s Moscone Center — is expected to open in 2004 and has already begun booking trade shows, though nowhere near its capacity. As a result, everyone from Boston’s mayor to the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority itself is soliciting IDG World Expo to bring Macworld Expo back to Beantown.
To seal the deal, IDG World Expo Charlie Greco is looking for concessions, including free rent, reduced prices on utilities, catering and other services and guarantees of cheap hotel rooms. If it sounds like asking for the moon, consider that Macworld Expo is the biggest technology expo in New York and was the largest expo in Boston prior to its departure. Bray estimated that the show brought in about $60 million to Boston annually. With 50,000 or more visitors and hundreds of exhibitors attracted to the event, it’s not hard to understand how it all adds up.
New York isn’t giving up without a fight, according to Bray. They’ve already put their own deal forth and are giving IDG until September 13 to make up their minds. Greco wants Boston to lay its cards on the table no later than September 10 so IDG can compare.