Study Recommends Convention Center For Harford

A destination market study outlines four major points for improvement and strategy in the Harford County Tourism industry.

Harford County would benefit from a convention center and a , among other items, according to a marketing study released Tuesday.

With the goal of making Harford County a tourist desitination, the study recommends emphasizing youth sports, creating a destination marketing organization, implementing a hotel tax and building a mid-sized convention center.

Plans for a convention center are at the feasibility study stage and there is no timeline or estimated cost for such a building, , Harford County Tourism and Marketing Manager told Patch Tuesday.

"The county stands at a significant disadvantage as the only county, the only jurisdiction in the state that does not have a lodging tax," Donald Fry, presdent and CEO of Greater Baltimore Committee, said during the conference.

Fry explained other jurisdictions collect revenue for tourism efforts from lodging taxes, but without that tax in place, Harford County has limited resources. 

"This funding recommendation is one of the key recommendations [in the study]," Fry said.

The study also recommends the county target meeting and sporting event business to cultivate the county's tourism market.

With Ripken Stadium and , Fry said the county has great potential for hosting sporting events.

"You could really become a national hub for youth sports," Fry said.

In addition to supporting sporting events, meeting and conference space could also be utilized to host events related to Aberdeen Proving Ground. Activity at APG has been much more robust because of the relocation of functions that BRAC brought with it. Fry pointed that along with  has come a number of defense contractors who regularly have a need for conferences and group meetings.

"We don't have the meeting space to accommodate them," Fry said.

To that end, the study states the county could support a mid-sized conference center and recommends building one that would supply the needed meeting space and could host more than 200 events a year.

The first phase of the reccommended convention center would include a 12,000 sq ft. ball room, 8,000 sq ft. of meeting room space and an exhibit hall of 30,000 sq ft.

The study also recommends a destination marketing organization or convention and visitors bureau to give one voice and focus to the destination strategy.

"I think it shows we are well positioned to expand on these opportunities," County Executive David Craig said of the study.

Craig said there is a need for the county to invest more in tourism.

"We’re not trying to get the Olympics here, by the way," Craig said, laughing.


To view the full study, visit here.

Jeff February 28, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Do we have the money for this? Will there be a tax increase?
Peter Nincompoop February 28, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Who paid for this study, how is this going to be paid for and why do we need this? Another example of David Craig bowing to special interest as he tries to make a name for himself and his hopeful run to the governors office. I also disagree with the Hotel Tax, and the statement that "The county stands at a significant disadvantage as the only county, the only jurisdiction in the state that does not have a lodging tax," wouldn't this put Hartford county at an advantage because since we dont have a tax we are more attractive to visitors and groups who want to stage events in the county since they can do it a lesser price than in other counties? But than the County council and their friends do not get to line their pockets, I forgot their only concern is money.
Gareth February 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
First of all, it's Harford not Hartford (not from around here are ya?). Secondly, if the lack of a hotel tax really makes the county more attractive to visitors, then why is the hotel and tourism industry begging for it? The fact is, Harford County businesses and taxpaying citizens are at a disadvantage, because we have to pony up all of the funds we spend to promote tourism, whereas every other county in America relies on hotel tax revenue paid by outsiders.
Monica February 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Sounds like a "Jack" O'Malley plan for more taxes.
Dale S. Arnold February 29, 2012 at 01:33 AM
As someone associated with management of a convention, you need 400 hotel rooms associated with such a project given the function space square footage listed, as in connected to the convention center, to make this attractive. However, if you have such a function space/room-block facility with free parking near I-95 in Harford County I would be very interested. Likely there would be others. Basically, it puts you near enough to draw from high population areas to the north yet still within range to draw from the Baltimore and Washington population areas to the south via I-95 and since 76% of convention attendees travel by automobile... Not great airport or mass transit access, but still a very interesting idea.
G D February 29, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Yes, that's what Harford county needs, a convention center...........sheer genius. Sounds more like someone is trying to stuff their resume more that genuine concern for the people which live here.
G D February 29, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Yes, while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on 95 and then even more traffic as I exited onto 24, only to encounter even worse on 924, I said to myself, with all of the new unnecessary development in and around this area, and with the infrastructure gasping to keep up with it, what we desperately need right now is a convention center................................idiots!
Take Responsibility! February 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Bew hew, let the whining commence. Oh wait, it already has.
Otto Schmidlap February 29, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Sounds like more of a want than a need.
AG February 29, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Ha Ha - Donald Fry was a State Senator for Harford County who was voted out of office many years ago because of his Tax & Spend policies. So here is is again, and another surprise! Harford County should Tax & Spend. Old Democrats never give up on their beliefs.
Kai February 29, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Harford County Goals: more money out of our pockets, more overcrowding, more irritability, and more crime.
Peter Nincompoop February 29, 2012 at 03:35 PM
After reading the entire report, this group is trying to create a demand that is not there, this is something that developers and the politicians want as a means of lining their pockets. This county is currently overdeveloped, and the roads are unable to handle the number of people currently in this county. The report references that the counties greatest attraction is the rural nature of the county, something the current administration would be more than willing to destroy and develop for the right price
midnitelamp March 06, 2012 at 02:48 AM
stadiums,mass transit,and convention centers are all part of a scam. at least the convention centers can be usded for homeless shelters/retirement homes for gov't. retirees.


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