BOSTON -- Mayor Thomas M. Menino said Monday night that Boston is investigating several sites for the construction of a convention center.
While Menino said that he still favors the C Street site recommended by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, he said he was willing to discuss other locations for the facility, which the city plans to open by the year 2000.
The mayor's announcement could help avoid a conflict with Massachusetts Senate president William M. Bulger, D-Boston. Bulger favors a plan that would require the state to sell $500 million in bonds through the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and would put the question of site choice to further study.
Although Menino said he would be willing to allow for another site, he wants the city to have control over the running of a new center.
In September, Menino announced that the Redevelopment Authority, after several months of research, had come up with what he considered to be the best site for the facility.
The mayor's announcement was made in conjunction with the release of an 87-page report from the authority on the feasibility and impact of a new facility.
The report said that a convention center facility built on C Street, in the South End section of the city, could comprise 550,000 square feet of exposition space in a facility of 1.44 million square feet. The cost would be approximately $438 million.
"C Street is close to the downtown and the airport, and it has excellent access by foot, car, and public transit," Menino said.
The report said the facility will be open and ready for business in the year 2000, and that it will generate approximately $225 million in extra revenue for the city and state in its first year. By the year 2010, the report said, annual revenue would grow to over $420 million.
The next best site, which according to the report is on Northern Avenue, would cost $556 million. The large cost difference is due to the expected infrastructure changes needed to build the facility on Northern Avenue.
Currently, Boston's largest convention facility is the Hynes Convention Center, in the city's South Bay section. Menino said in September that the Redevelopment Authority had investigated the possibility of expanding the Hynes facility, but found that the cost was too high and that many convention planners do not like to work with a two-level exposition area, which the Hynes center has.
The report said that if the new facility were financed through the sale of municipal bonds, the expected yearly burden from debt service would be around $35.6 million over 30 years.
The mayor's statement Monday eliminates the possibility that his administration would back a convention center-sports stadium complex.
"The use of a stadium for trade shows or meetings would require that it be constructed with a dome, a feature that almost doubles development costs," Menino said. "In addition, a megaphlex would require a site two-and-one-half times as large as a stand-alone exposition center."
Menino also said that for the most part, a large, domed facility is not judged to be a good spot for trade and exposition shows.