Convention CenterThe OC Register ran an article the other day headlined, “Big Conventions Mean Big Bucks For OC.”

The illustrative focus is the big NAMM convention that comes to the Anaheim Convention Center each year:

?An estimated 95,000 visitors – equivalent to a city the size of Mission Viejo – will descend on Anaheim for the three-day private music industry meeting.

While NAMM gets a lot of attention because of its size and star power, the gathering is just one of the big events at the Anaheim Convention Center that attract thousands of visitors to Orange County every year.

The top five shows bring a combined 285,000 people to Anaheim and inject an estimated $226 million into the economy. That is more than 45 percent of the estimated $494 million spent by all Anaheim convention visitors last year.”

This is useful to keep in mind as the city looks ahead to expanding the Convention Center. The question isn’t whether or not the city should be in the convention business. That’s like getting ready to deliver a baby and asking whether it was a good idea to get pregnant.

The real question is how to ensure the Convention Center remains an attractive destination in the very competitive convention and conference industry. Anaheim is always trying to lure big conventions from other cities — think of efforts to woo Comicon from San Diego. By the same token, other cities are trying to lure events like NAMM away from Anaheim. Other destination cities are not standing still. Inertia is a recipe for becoming less competitive, for losing business to other cities, and diminishing the value of the investment the city as already made in the Convention Center — not to mention the Resort Area itself — with real-world consequences for the pocketbooks of those whose livelihood is connected to the Resort Area, and on the city’s ability to maintain needed services.