In 1965 Boston’s War Memorial Auditorium (later Hynes Convention Center) opened to great fanfare and anticipation. But, by the mid 1970s, Boston officials were already proclaiming Hynes too small for growing conventions and promising that an expanded convention center would draw far more meetings and visitors to the city.
An expansion of the Hynes was begun in 1985. When it finally opened three years later, the expectations were as optimistic as 23 years earlier. The center was expected to bring $500 million into the city’s economy and create 8,000 new jobs.
Yet the convention business did not expand at the new Hynes. Even with the promise of free rent for meetings that booked early, the Hynes attracted in 1990, 1991, and 1992 about the same number of conventions and trade shows it had in 1980. Nor did the expanded Hynes fufill the promises of public officials was not that expectations had been unrealistic, or that there were some limits to the city’s appeal to meeting planners. Their conclusion was that Boston needed more convention space, in a new facility, to compete.
Today the price tag for a new convention center is likely to be there or four times the $200 million in debt for the 1988 Hynes project. And the promises of more conventions, more jobs and economic growth are very much the same.