Convention hotel could help business Others not worried about competition


It may take quite a feat of engineering to build a 1,000-room hotel above the proposed expansion of Baltimore's Convention Center, but the managers of Baltimore's three largest hotels say that they aren't particularly concerned about the competition it would represent for them -- as long as the Convention Center is expanded.

In interviews this week, the general managers of the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, the Omni Inner Harbor and the Stouffer Harborplace hotels all expressed cautious optimism that a "convention headquarters hotel" would help attract larger conventions that would use hotels throughout the city.

The developers who proposed to build the hotel, meanwhile, released the summary of a marketing study that indicates more than 1,000 hotel rooms will be occupied daily in the area if the developers are allowed to build a $600 million medical-oriented conference and exhibition center near the Camden Yards stadium.

The study, by Legg Mason Realty Group, is based on the assumption that the developers, a group headed by Richard Swirnow, build an "International Life Sciences Conference Center" and medical trade mart that would provide up to 2.6 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space in addition to the 400,000 square feet available in the expanded Convention Center.

"The proposal for the mart complex requires the development of secondary facilities such as hotel rooms and retail," the Legg Mason study says. "The complex will generate a demand for 1,082 occupied hotelrooms in the Baltimore metropolitan area per day."

Joseph Kane, general manager of the Omni Inner Harbor, and Alan Villaverde, vice president and general manager of Stouffer Harborplace, said that the key is keeping a balance between hotel rooms and meeting facilities.

"If the Convention Center is expanded, [the hotel] is a good idea. If the Convention Center is not expanded, it won't ever work," Mr. Kane said. "The only thing it would do is close other hotels in the area."

"If the Convention Center is expanded as has been planned, and if the medical facility is built, there will certainly be a need for another hotel in the city," Mr. Villaverde agreed.

Richard Morgan, general manger of the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, said he can see the need for a 1,000-room hotel but would rather see it come on line several years after the Convention Center expansion is complete.

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