The Washington Convention Center hosted 141 events in the first half of this year--far more than the 30 that had been projected through the end of September--but revenues are lagging behind what was expected, a center official told the D.C. City Council yesterday.
While the volume has been high, the kinds of shows the convention center attracted were not the big money-makers hoped for, explained Michael C. Rogers, the center's deputy general manager.
"The building has not been dark very much, but we have not had the most profitable events," he said.
Convention center officials had anticipated getting 10 large, national shows this year but got only four, he said. The ones that were booked were largely single-day events requiring less space and fewer services.
For this reason, revenues have been less than anticipated to date. But center officials expect to reach their target of $1.8 million in projected revenues by the end of the fiscal year because of trade shows scheduled for August and September, Rogers said.
The next fiscal year appears to be shaping up better than anticipated, Rogers said. Whereas 15 national shows originally were anticipated for fiscal 1984, officials have already booked 39, he said.
"In 1984, we look good," and bookings are picking up for later years, he added.
Rogers went before the City Council yesterday to justify Mayor Marion Barry's request for $200,000 in supplemental funding for the rest of the current fiscal year, necessitated by the convention center's lobbying for the Democratic Party's national convention in 1984.
Council members Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) and Betty Ann Kane (D-At large) appeared unimpressed with the rationale behind the supplemental request.
"You have an extraordinary budget for this type of thing," Jarvis told Rogers, pointing to $1.8 million in promotion funds budgeted for the center this year.
Kane said later that the Mayor's Committee to Promote Washington D.C. and the Washington Convention and Vistors' Association, budgeted to receive $1.6 million of those promotion funds, still have a total of $779,000 remaining in unobligated funds.
"That's where the money ought to come from," Kane said. She said she will oppose the supplemental request, particularly in light of other budget adjustments reducing funds in more pressing areas.
On another issue before the City Council yesterday, meanwhile, council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At large) was critical of the mayor's request to take $658,300 out of school health programs to go to clinical services and maternal and child health, which city officials said was necessary to get supplies to keep the clinics running.
She said she may offer legislation to require that every child be given a physical examination each year before entering school. Children now get examinations at schools in third and sixth grades, city officials said.
The number of school health positions is set to decrease from 83 to 75 next year. Doctors and nurses are available on a rotating basis at 102 of 124 elementary schools, but only 14 high schools now have full-time health personnel, the officials said.