San Diego Convention Center Background

Since opening in 1989, the San Diego Convention Center has generated over $17 billion in economic impact by hosting over 4,000 events that utilized more than 10 million hotel room nights. San Diego’s hotel inventory has doubled since Convention Center planning began in 1984 and hundreds of new restaurants, shops and attractions have helped transform downtown into a vibrant, urban community.

Out-of-town visitors who attend events in the Convention Center have generated more than $331 million dollars in revenues to the City of San Diego from the transient occupancy tax (bed tax) and sales tax. Incremental tax revenues in the four neighborhoods surrounding the current facility have increased nearly $500 million since 1990 as the activity at the Convention Center helped drive other economic developments. These tax revenues have been used to support essential city services like fire and police protection, libraries, parks and beaches while reducing the burden on local taxpayers.

Currently, more than 12,000 local jobs are directly or indirectly tied to events held in the current facility which has become a critical economic engine to the local economy, driving our third largest industry, tourism. Despite the difficult economic times, it is essential that efforts continue to secure San Diego’s financial health into the future. Many of the most lucrative conventions that bring in those tax dollars have outgrown --- or are about to outgrow - the current Convention Center.

The Convention Center has reached maximum occupancy and a lack of available space is the number one reason clients are not able to bring their business to our city. As a result, they go to other cities and we lose millions of dollars in additional tax revenue and jobs critical to our city’s health.

In his State of the City Address, Mayor Sanders pointed to the success of the Convention Center in helping drive the meeting and convention industry in San Diego and its role in generating tax revenues for critical city services and jobs for San Diegans. In order to facilitate a civic dialogue on the feasibility of an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and related developments and/or enhancements, a new task force comprised of San Diego citizens has been created.

Convention Center history at-a-glance
Convention Center land in 1985

Original building 1989-2001

Expanded building 2001-2009

Download background information on the San DIego Convention Center Corporation.
-Mayor's Citizen Task Force on the San Diego Convention Center Project-  •  •