Private Firm Takes Over Convention Center Operations

Reduced bookings making officials anxious.

It’s not been so long since the Pennsylvania Convention Center underwent a massive expansion. It hasn’t mattered much; bookings at the center are on the wane, and labor issues have borne much of the blame. Now, CBS Philly reports, operations are finally being shifted to control of a private company, Conshohocken-based SMG, to see if the situation can be fixed.

The company already runs more than 70 other centers around the country, and Senior Vice President Bob McClintock says that experience will help here in Philly.

But SMG faces huge hurdles, mainly in the perception among meeting planners that the Pennsylvania Convention Center is too costly, and that dealing with the six unions which set up the trade shows is a hassle. McClintock believes the planners will have confidence in SMG.

“They understand that they’re dealing with management that knows how the industry can run,” McClintock says. “And it’s not about running it non-union. It’s about running it effectively and efficiently in a multi-trade environment.”

Bookings at the center are expected to remain down through 2016.