First-quarter conventions could be bright spots for 2009

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They came, they saw, they tinkered. From Jan. 8 to 11, an estimated 110,000 people attended the Consumer Electronics Show, the largest technology trade show in the world.

Though attendance was down 20% from last year, you won't hear anyone complaining about the estimated $204 million convention-goers injected into the sputtering local economy. The CES routinely kicks off the hottest time of the local convention season, and this year appears to be no different.

The International Builders Show, which runs from Jan. 20 to 23, will bring in 90,000. In mid-February, more than 120,000 conventioneers are slated to attend the Magic Marketplace, the world's largest fashion trade event. Later next month, 30,000 are expected to attend the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons' annual meeting.

More than 31,000 are scheduled to attend International Hospitality Week in early March. Late March brings the ASD/AMD Show -- ASD/AMD is the leading producer of trade shows in variety, gift and jewelry merchandise -- and its estimated 64,000 conventioneers.

Nearly 115,000 are expected at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April. Meanwhile, an estimated 150,000 people will cycle through Las Vegas between now and July 31 for the U.S. Bowling Congress Championships and National Convention.

What convention officials wouldn't give to move the Conexpo-Con/Agg convention up by two years. Last year's convention drew its largest-ever crowd, 143,600. Conexpo-Con/Agg is the world's largest international gathering for the construction and construction materials industries. The next one isn't until 2011.

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