This post is in response to the Willamette Week editorial, "Ill-Starred," that makes the case that the reason why Portland, an NBA city, has never hosted the NBA All-Star Games (in 35+ years of having an NBA team in a league with only 30 total teams) is related simply to one fact: It doesn't have a large enough hotel to host the 800+ people who the NBA would need to host adjacent to the stadium.
This got me thinking that Portland is also not really taking full advantage of the Oregon Convention Center, also due to the lack of an adjacent large hotel that would allow it to attract the sort of large conferences that make the circuit of places with these facilities.
You know, as somebody who goes to conferences sometimes, I wish I could go to a large conference in Portland. The Convention Center actually *is* large enough to accommodate a large conference (10-12,000 people or so). However, there is no appropriate mix of nearby large hotels to support such an endeavour. There certainly is no single large (800+ room) hotel.
Let me be straight: I don't really like large hotels. I don't like the rich Republicans who run them; I don't like their exhorbitant rates; I don't like their rather white-bread cuisine; I don't like the generic stamped-out-of-a-moldness of their rooms.
However, I think that it would do Portland good to have a large hotel in the Lloyd District/Rose Quarter area, or preferably, a cluster of large hotels. It would be *best* if they were locally-owned, so that *all* the profits stayed within the city. It also would be best if they didn't drive the other hotels in town out of business (maybe their high rates wouldn't be such a bad thing, actually...).
This NBA All-Star Game issue is just another reason why such a large hotel/cluster of large hotels would be a great addition to the city, a boon to tourism, and allow for the possibility of attracting larger conferences and other events.
Why are these events good? They DO boost the economy. Sure, no sales tax, but those dollars brought here stay here, for some time, recirculating around within the local economy. Might be a while before they end up in the tax coffers, but they help the small businesses out for a while in the interim. Plus, I do believe Portland has a hotel tax, so the fact of having a large hotel or cluster of large hotels would in and of itself boost the tax base.
I don't think Portland is a po-dunk town (as one other commenter of Willamette Week's article suggested); I think it's a major cosmopolitan city that goes rather largely under-appreciated outside of Oregon and the West Coast, mainly because most people outside of this region *haven't been here yet*. More large hotels, as inherently evil as they may be in some respects, certainly could do a lot towards alleviating that problem.