BOSTON-Amidst growing concern over the dearth of bookings for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, an $800 million project currently being constructed on the South Boston waterfront, a committee for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has proposed a new marketing strategy.

The proposal would create a marketing team that would represent both the new convention center and the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention center, located in the Back Bay. Until now the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau has been mainly responsible for booking the new center but Pat Moscaritolo tells that he doesn’t believe his agency is being pushed out of the process.

“This is not a new marketing plan,” he contends. “We are taking Bureau people and MCCA people under one roof and creating an affiliate.”

The 516,000-sf center was approved by the state legislature in 1997 but its construction began just as the economy entered a recession. Cost overruns necessitated a scaling back of the plans and the recent terror attacks further hampered its efforts. Perhaps most significant for the center is the difficulty the 1,200-room headquarters hotel being developed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has had nailing down financing for its project. The hotel is considered crucial to the viability of the center and the two projects were supposed to come on line simultaneously in 2004 but it appears that the hotel will have difficulty opening by then.

According to Moscaritolo, the center now has 11 definite bookings through 2012 and eight letters of intent. But despite the paucity of bookings, he says that the proposed marketing plan is an attempt by the MCCA committee, after looking at the “issues, to unify the sales effort.” Instead of having five people at his facility and five people at the MCCA, both teams would be sited together. A key element of the plan will be the hiring of a sales director who will oversee the sales staff.

The MCCA board has to vote on the proposal before it can go into effect.

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