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BOSTON-In a deal that should give a much needed lift to the controversial new convention center being built on South Boston’s waterfront, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has signed the Boston Gift Show to host six shows at the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The $800 million taxpayer financed center has struggled with cost overruns and a dearth of bookings as it began to come online in one of the country’s worst economies in years. In addition, the development of the headquarters hotel for the convention center, which is considered crucial to the success of the convention center, was stymied by a lack of financing and is now expected to open a year later than the convention center, in the fall of 2005. The hotel’s developer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, finally signed a lease with the MCCA this past February.

The center has also had to contend with a vocal opposition that insisted that the city did not need a second convention center in addition to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, a smaller center that is located in the Back Bay. As of this past winter, there were only 18 shows booked for the new convention center for 10 years beginning in 2004.

But the new announcement from the MCCA notes that the center now has 30 definite events and 68 tentative events scheduled at the new convention center through 2010.

“This is a great announcement for the BCEC,” says James Rooney, MCCA interim executive director. “Large tradeshows like the Boston Gift Show are exactly the type of shows the BCEC was designed for.”

The show is being relocated from the smaller Bayside Expo and Executive Conference Center. “We decided to go to the BCEC because of the long-term growth opportunities that it affords us,” says Lynn White, group show manager for George Little Management, which manages the show. “Additionally, our exhibitors and attendees alike have expressed the desire to be in a state-of-the-art facility with access to the downtown area and hotels.”

The Boston Gift Show attracts more than 16,000 buyers from New England and Eastern Canada, according to a release put out by the MCCA.

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