SISO Leadership Rebukes N.Y. Governor's Decision to Give Boat Show Preferential Dates at Javits CC

August 11, 2013

Less than a week after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the annual Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show not only signed a new contract at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City through 2019, but also was being switched to a mid- to late-January timeframe, which will displace several other trade shows, Lew Shomer, executive director for the Society of Independent Show Organizers, sent a letter to the governor rebuking the decision.

“For a government official to interfere with such policies is unconventional and sets a terrible precedent that effectively prohibits organizers from establishing consistency regarding their future events at Javits,” Shomer said.

The impacted trade shows are the New York International Gift Fair (now known as NY NOW), Business Journal's MRket Show, Texworld Show, the National Retail Federation Show and the Action Sports Wear and Street Wear Show – Agenda.

All of the shows belong to the Friends of Javits, an organization representing more than four dozen trade shows, which also responded to Gov. Cuomo’s decision.

"Members of the trade show industry were disappointed to learn that the New York Convention Center's exhibition schedule was altered without notice and in violation of longstanding policy to favor the New York Boat Show," said a spokesperson for Friends of Javits.

They added, "This unilateral action threatens to displace six trade shows that support substantial economic activity and job creation for the City and State. Arbitrarily altering the schedule threatens the Convention Center's reputation related to future business commitments. It also impacts business for local hotels, restaurants and other related services.”

The Friends of Javits argued that the preferential treatment didn’t make sense since, in the past, scheduling at the center was based on tax revenue generation for the City and State of New York, as well as economic opportunity for the New York hotel, restaurant and transportation sectors, and the boat show, even before Superstorm Sandy, had been in decline.

Shomer agreed, adding in his letter to Gov. Cuomo, “The shows that you have harmed with your decision have been productive revenue producers for the City and State of New York for decades and it is unconscionable to understand how you can proceed with a decision to dismiss this history and potential revenue without understanding the consequences of your uninformed decision to move the Boat Show dates.”

When announcing the decision, on the other hand, Gov. Cuomo said it was “a move that will provide a shot in the arm for the boating industry in New York.”

He added, “Last year, Superstorm Sandy damaged marinas and destroyed thousands of boats in New York, so these events will be significant in steering the industry towards a full recovery.”

Cuomo also announced that the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which owns the boat show, also will launch a new fall boating industry event that will be held in September at the Javits.

Ben Wold, executive vice president, NMMA, applauded the original show’s move back to the mid- to late-January dates.

“As the oldest boat show in the world and a New York tradition since 1905, we’re thrilled to return the show to its original timeframe and applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the economic value of recreational boating to New York and for his commitment to expanding tourism and outdoor recreation throughout the state,” he added.

Henry R. Silverman, chairman of the Board of the Javits, and Alan Steel, president and CEO of the venue, also both voiced approval, both pointing to Gov. Cuomo’s policy that tourism is a critical component of New York state’s economic development strategy

“We are pleased to support the New York Boat Show and help our boating businesses and manufacturers get back on their feet following the impact of Superstorm Sandy,” Steel said.

He added, “The Javits Center is a committed partner in Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to grow our tourism sector and boost our economy, and we will help ensure that the boating industry remains competitive and thrives in New York State.”

Meanwhile, the Friends of Javits are asking Gov. Cuomo to postpone all contract discussions with the boat show “until we have had an opportunity to hold productive, good faith discussions with your office to come to a mutually beneficial resolution to this matter.”

Shomer said SISO fully supported the efforts of the Friends of Javits in asking Gov. Cuomo to reconsider this decision, adding “and better prepare yourself as to the consequences of such a self-defeating act of undue authority with a meeting that will surely advise you that this decision is not in the best interests of the economy of the State or City of New York, nor in the best interests of considering Javits as a destination for show organizers.”

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