Why 30,000 conventioneers go to Lancaster, not Philly

"Our events draw attendance of between 15,000 and 30,000 per event," and "I would love" to move them out of Lancaster, Phoenix, Charlotte and other remote places, to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and other "first-tier" towns, says Richard Louise, chief operating officer at the Kentucky-based American Quilter's Society.

And we're sure that Philadelphia's hotel-keepers, nervous about the drop in convention-center shows anticipated for the next three years, would love to have Louise's quilters. So what's stoping him? "$30 parking, union labor expenses relative to the mom and pop vendors," and "other items on the cost side of the equation," Louise told me.

They don't object to show managers hiring expert contractors to put in complex equipment. But individual quilters need a way to set up their own sites on the showroom floor, or they can't afford to come here, according to Louise. So he's excited that Conshohocken-based venue manager SMG is taking over management of the Philadelphia-based center this fall: "We worked with them" in Des Moines, and he hopes they'll find a way to bring his people to the big city.