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ACVB: Convention impact tripled this year

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rollersportsThe Albuquerque Convention Center’s major makeover remains a few months from completion, but the venue already is buzzing – and not just from the construction-related jack-hammering.

Business conducted at the center this fiscal year has generated triple the economic impact of last fiscal year, according to figures released Tuesday in conjunction with the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau annual meeting.

The ACVB, citing business attributed to its sales staff, said convention center events will account for an estimated $25.7 million in direct spending by the time the fiscal year ends June 30. That’s compared to $8.6 million in 2013.

Last July’s USA Roller Sports’ national championships – a three-week event – represented the bulk of the gain ($9.7 million), and such large, rare bookings make year-to-year comparisons difficult. Even without it, however, spending associated with convention center business nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014.

A truly lackluster 2013 accounts for some of the difference, as last year represented bookings made during the heart of the recession.

But ACVB officials also credit the 2014 gains to generous incentive packages doled out by the ACVB and local hotels.

“We did everything from underwriting the cost of the Convention Center for appropriately-sized groups to helping with transportation and other inducements that would help make their meeting special in Albuquerque,” ACVB CEO Dale Lockett said in an interview.

The convention center – which should have its nearly $25 million renovation mostly complete by August – may not attain the same numbers next year, but it should remain busy. ACVB has arranged for convention center events estimated to bring in $15.3 million in fiscal 2015 and may still book more.

During Tuesday’s meeting, which drew more than 300 people to the convention center ballroom, ACVB also touted media relations efforts that resulted in more than 2,000 stories about Albuquerque this year.

“No doubt we had a number of pop culture phenomena that helped us – “Breaking Bad,” the American Girl (doll) being from Albuquerque,” Tania Armenta, ACVB’s vice president of marketing, communication and tourism, said in an interview.

The city’s appearance on many “best-of” lists also helped, though Armenta said the ACVB was especially proactive this year.

“We held film tourism press tours (and have been) very aggressive to go after that coverage on behalf of Albuquerque,” she said.

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