June 27, 2015
The Convention Center is said to be an economic driver that brings in outside visitors to Spokane, and this is the justification for continually expanding the facilities. In just a few years, the PFD will seek additional taxes to expand again.
Does this economic driver work? Here is a comparison of airport usage versus convention center usage. Visually, there is no correlation; statistically, the R-squared value of the correlation is 1.6% (meaning zilch correlation).
If the Convention Center brings in outside visitors, they do not arrive by air or the number is so insignificant as to have no impact.
The air passenger data was scaled to a similar range to the Convention Center attendance for the purpose of comparison. In the chart above, the Y-axis shows convention center attendance; multiply by 10 for the air passenger number.
There is no correlation with jobs, either.
The top 2 largest events account for more than 25% of all usage:
- Bloomsday, 47,346 people
- PNQ Volleyball, 44,461 people
Outside of those two events, the remaining events average less than 700 people per day, the rest of the year.
The Convention Center was just expanded so it can accommodate large events. Unfortunately, for a facility designed to accommodate up to 6,500 people, actual utilization is closer to 10% of best case, most of the year.
Spokane Convention Center Usage By Month
Spokane Arena By Month
For many months, the facility is almost unused.
Spokane INB Performing Arts Center
The INB Performing Arts Center is barely used for several months of the year.
Keep this in mind when in 2 or 3 more years, the Spokane PFD comes asking for more money for yet another expansion of their empty facilities.