- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

SEASIDE, Ore. (AP) - A notable Oregon convention venue may be expanding to keep up with the competition if Seaside officials can figure out how to come up with $25 million.

A new consultant’s report agrees with previous studies on the Seaside Civic and Convention Center in recommending a larger exhibition hall and more room for meetings, the Daily Astorian (https://bit.ly/1xL2dzZ) reported Monday.

An expanded center “will be better positioned to compete effectively in the regional marketplace, by bringing its space offerings in line with its larger and newer competition,” said the study from C.H. Johnson Consulting of Chicago.

It offered comparisons to regional facilities such as the Salishan resort in Gleneden Beach, Sunriver Resort in central Oregon and convention facilities in Salem and Bend. The $42,000 study was meant as an independent review of studies from 2009 and 2013.

The study agreed with recommendations for a new, 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall and an additional 8,830 square feet of meeting and break-out space.

The convention center was built in 1971 and renovated in 2007, its website says. It brings tens of thousands of people every year to the popular coastal tourist town of about 6,500.

The C.H. Johnson study projects that with the expansion, the number of events would increase and attendance would rise from nearly 57,000 in 2017 to about 82,000 in 2026.

The center runs a deficit of $350,000. After the expansion that debt would be expected to rise to $461,000 in 2017 and then subside to $317,000 by 2026, the study says.

To pay for the expansion, the consultants suggested options such as an alliance with Cannon Beach to the south and Astoria to the north for destination marketing; an improvement district in greater downtown Seaside focusing on the convention center and using room taxes; or a specially enacted “sales fee” on the retail and hotel trade to pay for the project and other downtown improvements.

Russ Vandenberg, the center’s general manager, said the consultants will refine the financial ideas, and the package will go to the Seaside City Council.

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, https://www.dailyastorian.com

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