Pa. Convention Center: Private takeover delayed til December

Pennsylvania Convention Center's Market Street Entrance. (Reid Kanaley / Staff)

The handover of the Pennsylvania Convention Center from president and chief executive Ameenah Young's city-backed administration to Conshohocken-based facility management company SMG, previously projected for October, is now expected to take place Dec. 1, Pete Peterson, spokesman for center board chairman Gregory Fox, confirmed this afternoon after a meeting of the ad hoc "Working Group" of board members who have been plotting the privatization.

State officials have been reviewing SMG's contract and suggesting legal or technical changes. That process, Peterson told me, is now complete, and directors are "expecting written notification from [Pennsylvania Budget] Secretary Zogby in the next few days," enabling the transfer to take place after the end of November.

Board members who supported the change hope SMG will negotiate changes in work rules that will make the center more competitive for shows where exhibitors are used to doing a lot of their own set-up work, among other improvements. The national convention business has been flat in recent years, making it tough for cities like Philadelphia to use their expensive facilities to boost hotel and restaurant traffic..

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