December 3, 2011

The Port of San Diego’s decision – however squishy – to help fund the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is a welcome step forward on an issue of crucial importance to the region’s economy.

The port’s seven commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to contribute $3 million a year for 20 years toward the $520 million cost of expanding the waterfront center. The vote, however, was conditional. And the list of conditions is an ample one.

“We’re not exactly throwing the money in the bank today,” Scott Peters, chairman of the commission, told the Union-Tribune. “We still have a lot to do.”

Though real enough, none of the outstanding issues are insurmountable. And the importance of expanding the Convention Center, an economic powerhouse for the region, is such that the issues must be overcome.

The request for the money came from San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who has proposed increasing the center’s exhibition space from 525,000 square feet to 750,000, while adding additional meeting space and ballroom space.

With the port expected to garner $4 million to $5 million annually in additional revenue from an expansion, a $3 million annual contribution is a no-brainer. This is one conditional vote that should become unconditional as quickly as possible.