To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, February 27, 1999

We built it,
will they come?

REMEMBER when the Honolulu Convention Center site was being selected? People lost sleep over the threat of an eternal traffic jam at the Kalakaua-Kapiolani-Atkinson corners, busiest in Honolulu. $350 million later, it's built. No buses, lumbering trucks or streams of taxis choke the surrounding roadways. Traffic zips serenely by outside its echoing hollowness.

What were we (wishfully) thinking?

Thinking, per se, no longer appears to be driving how our off-white elephant is used. The rules-making process is more glandular.

They said a ''world-class'' center would transform Honolulu into a magnet for conventions. With more new business than we could handle, the center needn't compete against existing hotels. Ergo, only the biggest, baddest gatherings can book the center. Local organizations? Fill a few hundred hotel rooms or forget it. After all, 25,000 Realtors might just drop in and need your breakout room.

Now, some legislators want the new Hawaii Tourism Authority to run the center and pay for it, too. Tourism's tourism, right? Never mind that HTA's dollars were earmarked for marketing not debt service or that conventions and vacationers are vastly different markets.

What's missing? A plan that puts the center to work. Disbanding the Convention Center Authority and dumping a big, mostly empty building in HTA's lap makes as much sense as ...well...everything else so far.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin