San Luis Obispo County may get a $26 million convention center

Jun 21, 2018

A $26 million dollar convention center might come to Paso Robles. Members of the Paso Robles Event Center, Travel Paso and the City of Paso Robles met this week to explore the possibility of building a large-scale conference center at the Paso Robles Event Center on Spring and Riverside Streets. KCBX reporter Tyler Pratt spoke with the CEO of the Paso Robles Events Center to learn more about the proposed conference center, why the county might need  one, and why Paso Robles was chosen as the site.

Below is the original transcript of an interview aired during All Things Considered​ on Wednesday, June 21, 2018.

TYLER PRATT, KCBX Host and Reporter: So explain this announcement to me. You are looking into "the economic feasibility" of this project. What does that mean?

MICHAEL BRADLEY, CEO of Paso Robles Event Center: Well, basically this project, which is a three-way partnership between the city of Paso Robles, the Paso Robles Events Center and Travel Paso, our dmo (destination marketing organization) in Paso Robles, are working together on the continued feasibility study of this incredible conference center that would be showcased here and built right in Paso Robles on the Paso Robles events center.

PRATT: What kind of timeline are we looking at here?

BRADLEY: Well, that's a great question. Optimistically we are hopeful that we can open the doors in the year 2021, but we have a lot of work to do. Through the process of research and development, even though 2021 is a target date, that could change and may change.

PRATT: Now this may sound like a dumb question, but why doesn't the county already have a conference center like this?

BRADLEY: Well, there are some meeting spaces within the county itself that are available but no, no property within the county itself even between Monterey and Santa Barbara has a venue of this size--most particularly a venue that would allow for a ballroom space that can seat up to 1,000 persons, which is critical when we look at meeting space for meeting planners bringing conferences into venues and facilities and cities. And so that's very important. So, the time has come for Paso Robles. The time has come for San Luis Obispo County and the region to have such a property.

PRATT: And what was the idea behind putting a convention center in Paso Robles instead of, say maybe, San Luis Obispo or Pismo or somewhere else in the county?

BRADLEY: Well, another great question. There have been two studies done, Tyler. One was funded through Visit SLO Cal, which is part of the Visit California program and specific to our to our community here. That particular study, done by B&D [Venues], is the same group that we utilized in the first study. It was clearly indicated that a conference center of this size is necessary for the county. There were three locations that were identified as some great options for that. One was the city of San Luis Obispo. One was the Five Cities area and the third, of course, is the Paso Robles area. So we, together with the City and Travel Paso, have developed the secondary study, which is specific just to Paso Robles, and clearly indicates that it's sustainable, that it's doable, and that it will benefit us in a significant way.

PRATT: What do community members that you've spoken to feel about the extra tourism that this might bring in?

BRADLEY: Well, of course, there's continuing growth within the area, and what we're hopeful for is that individuals and groups that do come into the space here will further develop their opportunities either before the conference that they are attending or after the conference. You know, come early, stay late. So therefore they're participating in the great wine industry that we have, shopping, restaurateurs will benefit greatly. So we see it as a great benefit to the community and to the region at large.