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Burbank Cool to Convention Center

April 09, 1987|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

A feasibility study commissioned by the Burbank City Council has concluded that Burbank would be a prime location for a convention center--a 200,000-square-foot one costing $34 million.

But Burbank city officials find the size of the recommended convention center, well, unconventional.

"Sure, we'd like a convention center, but that price tag is all wrong," City Manager Bud Ovrom said.

Burbank's reluctance to join the ranks of Los Angeles and Anaheim in hosting large conventions may disappoint more than 130 national organizations with headquarters outside California who said they would consider holding their conventions in Burbank.

The survey was conducted by convention center consultant Robert Black, who was hired by the council in 1985 to determine the viability of a combined community and convention center.

Black told the council last week that "sufficient market demand exists to make the proposed facility an economically viable operation in Burbank."

Black recommended that the Burbank center include a main meeting and exhibition hall of 70,000 square feet, 45,000 square feet for meeting rooms and a 1,000-seat theater. He said the best site would be at one end of a 40-acre tract in downtown Burbank that was supposed to have been the site of the planned Towncenter shopping mall, which fell through in February.

But Mayor Mary Kelsey said she is unhappy with the scale of Black's proposal and wants to see something much smaller.

"I think we were a lot more interested in a community center for our citizens," Kelsey said. "Sure, we'd like a few trade shows, but this is not really what we had in mind."

Kelsey, along with other officials, also eliminated the Towncenter site as a possible location. The city officials said they do not want to put a convention center in downtown Burbank and that a more likely location would be near Burbank Airport, where land is also available for redevelopment and the airport would be convenient for convention visitors.

Black also recommended that the city build and operate the center. He said the center's revenues and occupancy of nearby hotel rooms by convention delegates could produce more than $1 million in tax income for the city.

But city officials said that, if such a center were built, they would prefer that a private operator be contracted to manage it.

City officials said they would continue to study the possibility of a smaller convention center during the next several months.

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