Cancelled Convention Could Cost St. Louis $6 Million

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The government agency known as the GSA handles just about all federal purchasing. They were supposed to meet in St. Louis for an energy trade show. But, because of a scandal about a Las Vegas convention two years ago the GSA has cancelled it’s St. Louis convention at the last minute. That’s costing the region around six million dollars. It’s also costing hotel and convention workers their paycheck. This convention had been scheduled for a year. It was supposed to fill up 2,500 downtown hotel rooms and the convention center for several days starting August 17th.

The reason the convention is being pulled is because of the October 2010 GSA Convention in Las Vegas. For 300 attendees, the GSA spent over $820,000. It hired music acts, a mind reader and spent $7,000 on sushi. That led to a congressional investigation.

We called the GSA’S Spokesman in Washington DC. We were told new rules after the Vegas trip made the St. Louis convention unworkable. They wouldn’t talk about the reason for the last-minute cancellation. They also refused to talk about the contracts they signed when we asked.

We’ve been told the GSA refuses to pay the cancellation fees to hotels and the convention center because of the last-minute cancellation.  Several downtown hotels had sold all of their rooms to this convention and turned away all other business for that week in August.

“We were actually sold out. So the entire hotel? The entire hotel was sold out. We were actually turning away not only group business but transient business that would be coming in on an individual basis.” said Tom Lyons of Lodging Hospitality Management.

It also means hundreds of hotel workers, convention center workers and parking garage workers won’t be working that week.

Since there’s only a month between now and when the convention was supposed to happen there’s not enough time for the hotels to book more groups or the convention center to book another convention.