The Future of Edmonton's Convention Market
EEDC presented to Executive Committee of City Council on February 9, 2011 the results of studies on Edmonton's long-term convention market. To access Executive Committee discussion document, click here.
What is the state of the convention industry in Edmonton?
- Demand for convention space currently exceeds our supply, resulting in turned-away business.
- Conventions, as an important part of Edmonton’s economic diversification, offer the following benefits to Edmonton:
- Bring new money into our community, which is spread across local businesses, including transportation, dining, retail and accommodation.
- Is key to enhancing Edmonton’s awareness and image in external markets.
- Bring vibrancy to our downtown.
- In 2009, SCC hosted 31 major conferences and 433,000 total attendee days, and generated $43.5 million in estimated economic impact for Greater Edmonton.
Why does the centre need to expand?
- Edmonton is currently turning away business and has the opportunity to nearly double the number of delegates coming to Edmonton.
- Maintaining the status quo will result in declining market position and weakening economic impact.
- Expected downtown hotel growth will open up even greater market opportunities that the current facility is not able to capture.
Where will the expansion take place?
- Based on analysis, the most viable, cost-effective and exciting solution that combines efficiency with customer expectations, complements other business interests, and creates the best long-term return on investment for the community is to double the existing space by building south, i.e. updating the current facility and expanding across Grierson Hill Road.
When will the expansion take place?
- Over the next year, a geotechnical study will be done on soil conditions and the business case (that will consider costs/benefits and funding alternatives) will be finalized.
- A public discussion and a decision point to proceed with expansion is up to 18 months out.
- Depending on financing and other considerations, an expanded SCC would not likely open until the 2017-2020 timeframe.
What will the expansion cost?
- A cost estimate will depend on the geotechnical and space studies that are being done in 2011 and the final design.
- EEDC intends to continue advancing the project so that it is ready to capitalize on opportunities as the economy recovers.
- Looking at recent major civic projects, EEDC recognizes that a funding program that does not affect the residential tax base will be a priority.
How did EEDC conclude that expansion to the south was the best option?
- EEDC engaged an external advisory committee of community, business and government leaders to help in determining the best way to address the need for more downtown convention space.
- Expanding to the south was deemed the most viable, cost-effective and exciting solution. The analysis included technical studies that considered soil conditions, physical constraints, operational efficiency and financial viability.
- A range of options were considered, including constructing a brand new facility or operating a second annex building.
Why does SCC need to expand when there is space at the Northlands Expo Centre?
- SCC’s current priority market is the major business-to-business convention market that attracts a significant number of external delegates who require accommodation, shopping and other attractions within walking distance.
- Other facilities, such as the Expo Centre, Mayfield and the like, support the medium to larger consumer-focused exposition market.
- Local hotels support smaller meetings and accommodation for SCC customers.
- These facilities complement SCC’s primary focus and do not compete with them.
What will happen if the centre does not expand?
- As existing clients’ space requirements keep growing, some clients will outgrow their existing facility in Edmonton and potentially leave the city.
- Maintaining the status quo will result in declining market share and a shift to serving solely as a regional facility.
- Without additional convention space in downtown Edmonton, the economic impact from conventions is expected to remain flat or decline in the next five to 10 years.
What is the timeline of the expansion project?
- 2009: EEDC presents to City Council that SCC is nearing capacity, and commits to preparing a long-term development plan to address Edmonton’s convention market needs.
- 2011: EEDC presents to Executive Committee the results of studies projecting and validating that current and future demand will continue to exceed available space. EEDC starts a year-long geotechnical assessment of the proposed site and the development of a business case.
- Debate and approval: likely 18 months out.
- Potential global design competition and detailed design work: two years.
- Construction: three years.
- Best-case scenario: more than seven years until opening.