He landed on their hotel
The Ralph Buncher Co. has plans to build a 143-room hotel--apparently privately financed--in the Strip District, not far from the convention center, yet officials with the Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau are unhappy. Why? Because it interferes with their plans to throw public money at Forest City Enterprises to expand the Westin Convention Center Hotel. And of course, the Westin management isn't thrilled either, but that's understandable. You look pretty silly feeding at the public teat when a someone else builds a hotel all on his own dime.
For the last time (well, maybe not the last time), the nation's market for convention centers is saturated, and Pittsburgh's convention center is too big. A lack of hotel space has little if anything to do with its failure to bring in conventions and generate revenue. The region already has a high hotel vacancy rate which, as the Trib article notes, would be exacerbated by the expansion of the Westin.
Of course, if someone wants to risk their own money expanding the Westin then they should go right ahead. But the fact that the city needs to bribe someone to do it means that there probably won't be enough business to justify the investment. (Buncher may be anticipating a casino in the Strip District, according to the Trib, but it doesn't matter to me why they are building it, as long as they do it without handouts.) Which leads me to ponder a very good but very naive question from Buncher President Thomas Balestrieri:
"It seems to me that if the private sector builds enough 150-room hotels, it would satisfy the needs of the convention center," he said. "Why anybody would be unhappy about that, I don't know."
Because, Mr. Balestrieri, then they give up control. And that scares the people who run this town more than you can possibly imagine.