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BOSTON-All the talk about closing the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center has gotten businesses in the Back Bay, where it is located, nervous–prompting the Back Bay Association, which represents 275 businesses here, to rev up its campaign to keep the convention center open.

When the legislation was created nearly six years ago to develop the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston’s waterfront it was agreed that the Hynes would be protected from closing, despite the fact that there would now be two convention centers in town. But recently, gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney raised the issue in one of his position papers and a number of legislators have followed suit. More recently, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority appointed a committee to study the viability of having both buildings.

Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the association, tells GlobeSt.com that her group has formed its own committee that is meeting with city leaders, state representatives and city councilors to ensure that the Hynes remains open. “We are encouraging people to take the long-term view,” she notes. “The benefits of this economic engine are essential to the neighborhood. The Hynes is part of the Back Bay’s ecosystem.”

Mainzer-Cohen points out that both the Sheraton and the Marriott were built with a focus on the Hynes. “If you take away the heart of the activity it will impact businesses here, especially hotels, but also restaurants and retail,” she says. Mainzer-Cohen adds that while the sale of the Hynes will initially bring some money in, the convention center brings in $348 million annually to the local economy. She also insists that once the new convention center is up and running, there will be enough business for both centers.

Pat Moscaritolo, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau agrees. He contends that it would be a “huge mistake” to close the Hynes. While the thinking, he tells GlobeSt.com, is that is that all the business from the Hynes will just shift over to the new center, that, he predicts will not happen. “If a convention is not exhibit intensive the Hynes is perfect,” he says. “Meeting planners prefer the Hynes because it has wonderful infrastructure in terms of restaurants and retail services within walking distance. Smaller conventions would be lost in the larger building.”

Moscaritolo says that meeting planners have contacted him telling him that rather than transfer to the larger center, they will take their conventions to another city. “Planners will vote with their feet,” he says.

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