Convention business has suffered tremendously during the pandemic

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) The convention business has suffered tremendously during the pandemic. The lost revenue at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay tells the story. Kris Schuller has more on the economic impact and when things might turn around.

At the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay, the hallways are dark and the doors often locked. As this facility struggles to get by during the pandemic.

“When Covid hit, conventions really stopped,” said Brad Toll.

With 80,000 square feet of space Brad Toll from the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau says the KI is a favorite stop for many convention planners. And until March last year – the building was always booked.

“Going into 2020 we had probably one of the best years on the books in many years, probably a record setting year for the whole area,” said Toll.

And then the pandemic hit, leading to convention cancellations, erasing millions of dollars of anticipated revenue.

“The economic impact of that right about now is $100 million, it’s horrible,” said Toll.

And Brian Johnson from On Broadway Inc. says his downtown member businesses are suffering from it too.

“The economic impact it has on our community, it’s incalculable. You’re talking about folks staying in hotel rooms, eating at our restaurants, visiting our small businesses. The impact is really important and significant,” said Johnson.

But Toll says until more people are vaccinated the convention business isn’t likely to roar back to life.

“The big 1,200 or 1,500 person conventions – probably not this year. That will likely start again in 2022,” Toll said.

Until then small meetings and wedding receptions make up the bulk of the center’s business – while this weekend a lodging association has reserved some space.

“This convention coming, normally 300 people, it’s probably going to be about 100,” said Toll.

But right now, Toll says small is the way it will go, until the pandemic is under control.

“Planners are really holding off. They want to see where things are going to go first,” Toll said.

Toll says in 2019 – conventions in the Green Bay area had an economic impact of $120 million.

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