An authority appointed by the governor to review plans for expanding the Baltimore Convention Center today recommended building an addition that would double the size of the 11-year-old facility.

In making its recommendations to the governor and General Assembly, the Baltimore Convention Center Authority suggested that the General Assembly appropriate $2 million next year to begin architectural studies for the expansion.

HTC The expansion and upgrades to the existing facility are expected to cost about $104 million, said Robert Hillman, chairman of the authority.

"What we've done is looked at this thing from a point of view of business people," Hillman said. "We've asked if the present one is a good investment and without exception it has proved to be a good investment. All evidence we have shows the addition would also be a good investment."

The current center contains 115,000 square feet of exhibit halls and 40,000 square feet of meeting rooms. Since the facility opened in 1979, it has generated $58.5 million in state tax revenues and already has repaid the initial investment and its interest of about $52 million, according to the report the authority presented today.

Hillman said the authority believes an expanded convention center would pay for itself by increasing the number of conventioners and tourists to the state. The authority said that additional taxes will not be needed to service the debt. But the authority recommended that if the General Assembly wants to be sure revenues are sufficient to pay for the expansion, it could levy an additional $1 or $2 hotel tax and a $1 car rental tax.

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