NY Gov. Cuomo Gives Preferred Dates to New York Boat Show; Friends of Javits Fights Back

DANICA TORMOHLEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE

New York, NY – In an unusual move, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the annual Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show, a consumer event produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), will get preferred dates in mid- to late-January from 2015 through 2019 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Following the announcement, the Friends of Javits, a group that represent trade show organizers and exhibitors, called on the center to “reverse its arbitrary decision” that will displace six major trade shows at the center.

According to the Friends of Javits, the six impacted trade shows include GLM’s NY NOW (formerly known as the New York International Gift Fair), Business Journal Inc.’s MRket Show, Messe Frankfurt North America’s Texworld Show, the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show, and the Reed Exhibition’s Action Sports Wear and Street Wear Show-Agenda.

“This move gives unprecedented preferential treatment to the New York Boat Show, which has been a declining exhibition, dropping 30% in attendance over the past three years,” according to a press release by Friends of Javits (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/trade-show-industry-calls-on-ny-convention-center-to-reverse-decision-displacing-major-exhibitions-218876971.html).

Indeed, the New York Boat Show has seen attendance decline dramatically over the last decade. In 2013, the New York Boat Show was held Jan. 3-6 and drew 32,621 attendees. The show drew 40,072 when it was held Jan. 4-8, 2012 and 44,565 the previous year when it was held Jan. 19-23, 2011. The New York Boat Show was held in mid to late January in 2011 and 2010, but previously was held in late December and early January from 1999 to 2009. Attendance peaked in 2002, when it drew 98,445 attendees from Jan. 5 to 13. The show was held over eight days until 2009, when it was shortened to four days.

“No reason was given for this decision, and we are aware of no economic impact study that was conducted regarding its effects,” said to the Friends of Javits. “It will have a negative economic impact on tax revenue, jobs, as well as a number of industries, including hotels, restaurants and transportation.” The group has retained Randy Mastro, attorney for Gibson Dunn & Crutcher “to explore legal options.”

Gov. Cuomo contends that the move will provide a shot in the arm for the boating industry in New York. “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,” said Gov. Cuomo in a press release (http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/08082013-boat-show-expanding). According to NMMA, the recreational boating industry generates $3.03 billion in total retail and services sales in New York and a total economic impact of $5.79 billion in the state.

Javits President and CEO Alan Steel supports the decision. “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,” said Steel. “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.”

But the Friends of Javits questions whether these goals are in line with the center’s mission and booking policies. “The decision violates a longstanding policy of the Javits Center to schedule exhibitions that maximize their economic impact on the city and state of New York,” according to the Friends of Javits.

According to its 2012-2013 Annual Report (https://www.javitscenter.com/paris2013/annualreport.pdf), the Javits Center generated an economic impact of $1.4 billion and a fiscal impact of $37.1 million in 2012. In 1012, the center held 73 events drawing 1.9 million attendees and 32,632 exhibiting companies.  The annual report does not include specific economic impact data for individual shows, but Trade Show Executive is in the process of verifying this information.

Located at the Javits Center since 1987, the New York Boat Show will hold its 109th show January 1-5, 2014. In the following five years, the New York Boat Show is scheduled to be held January 21-25, 2015; January 27-31, 2016; January 25-29, 2017; January 25-29, 2018; and January 23-27, 2019. Jonathan Pritko, show manager for the New York Boat Show, told Trade Show Executive the association does not have a signed contract for these dates with Javits, but the association does have a verbal agreement.

“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 Gov. 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,” said Ben Wold, executive vice president, NMMA.

Upon learning about the potential move, the Friends of Javits sent a letter on Wednesday to Henry Silverman, chairman of the Jacob Javits Convention Center Development Corporation, requesting a meeting to discuss a compromise. But the governor moved forward with its decision without meeting with the group. Following the uproar, Cuomo has agreed to send staff to talk with the Friends of Javits next week.

“We remain hopeful there can be a constructive dialogue,” said Mastro on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “The board resolution should be dictating how Javits’ management determines show dates. That’s not happening with this decision.” He cited Javits board resolution 544, which is to evaluate existing and future shows based on hotel room nights and income for the center.

In addition, NMMA announced plans to launch a fall boating show at the Javits Center and has secured September dates from 2014 to 2019. The first fall boat show will be held September 10-14, 2014.

Contact: New York State Executive Chamber at (518) 474-8418 or press.office@exec.ny.gov; Jonathan Pritko, Show Manager, NMMA, (718) 707-0716 or jpritko@nmma.org; Alan Steel, (212) 216-2000 or asteel@javits.com, Randy Mastro at (212) 351-3825 or rmastro@gibsondunn.com

UPDATE: Yesterday’s actions resulted in coverage by both The Associated Press and Crain’s New York Business. The AP story was picked up by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Sacramento Bee, the Daily Journal, the Connecticut Post, the Houston Chronicle, the Bellingham Herald and the Miami Herald.

UPDATE: IAEE, the International Association of Exhibitions & Events is expected to release a statement soon…