Sporting goods 'Super Show' gives Sands Expo Center a boost

LAS VEGAS -- The Sands Expo and Convention Center, which recently announced that the world's largest sporting goods show had agreed to a three-year commitment starting in 2001, is on a roll for signing up trade shows.

"This is tremendous for Las Vegas. It's very quickly becoming not only the trade show capital of this country, but also the trade show capital of the world," said Mike Mays, director of communications for the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, which puts on The Super Show.

The sporting goods show generally brings in about 90,000 delegates for its annual meetings in Atlanta, where it has met since its founding in 1986, according to Mays. Estimates are that the group's annual convention generates $121 million in nongaming revenues.

The Sands also signed up six other leading trade shows, including Western Shoe Associates, the Jewelers Circular-Keystone Show and the Men's Apparel Guild in California (Magic). The combined shows will bring 311,000 people to Las Vegas, with an economic impact of $403 million.

"There are other new shows with contracts floating out there," said William Weidner, president and chief executive officer of the Sands, who added that he expected to make more announcements in the near future.

The cost of booking the privately held Sands is higher than the cost of using government-owned facilities, he acknowledged. "While it is true that show managers pay a higher price for space in a for-profit, tax-paying convention center, Las Vegas' compelling combination of the most trade show space of any city, the lowest air fare and destination cost in the country, and the popularity of Las Vegas to boost show attendance makes it a trade show mecca," he said.

His comments were backed by a Price Waterhouse Coopers study earlier this year. The study concluded that Las Vegas had the most hotel rooms, lowest air service cost, lowest destination cost and the most exhibition space of any city in the U.S.

Mays said bringing the sporting goods show to Vegas should boost its attendance, possibly to more than 100,000 delegates. Several reasons were cited as to why the sporting goods group decided to move its meetings here, beginning in 2001 and continuing through 2003.

"For the first time, this venue will allow our West Coast and Pacific Rim attendees easier access to The Super Show," said John Riddle, president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The area's reputation for entertainment and dining were given as other reasons.

With 25 individual sporting goods shows taking place simultaneously, The Super Show and its 3,000 exhibitors will use all 1.7 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space at the Sands Expo and the adjacent Venetian Congress Center. Other areas around Las Vegas will also be used for breakout shows.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has contended that trade shows would seek out other cities because of a lawsuit now blocking a 1.3 million-square-foot expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The company that owns the Sands also owns The Venetian, which filed the suit, objecting to the authority's plan to use general obligation funds for a $150 million expansion. The suit will come to trial in early October.

The 1.2 million-square-foot Sands Expo and Convention Center is the largest privately owned and operated convention center in the U. S.

The Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo Center and the Venetian Congress Hall combined have about 3 million square feet of exhibit space, more than any city in the country.

The Sands Expo and Convention Center
Phone: (702) 733-5556

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