MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) – The Monroeville Convention Center will be closing this summer, and the news came as a surprise to many on Monday.
“For it to just be pulled out from under us out of nowhere is very disheartening,” said Colt Dalmaso, showrunner of the Pittsburgh Gaming Expo.
Dalmaso is just one of many showrunners to find themselves in trouble after receiving letters terminating their show contracts.
Several major event planners told KDKA-TV’s Meghan Schiller that they learned of the cancellation with little to no explanation. Many received calls from angry providers who read social media posts about the issue.
“We were informed that the contract was terminated due to significant construction,” said Alex Kinnamon of the Pittsburgh Gaming Expo.
Kinnamon said his three-day event was scheduled for this October, but now he’s dealing with a logistical nightmare.
“You bring bands, you bring celebrities to guest, you bring all these people who run booths and exhibit at these shows and sell their stuff. “All these people rely on these appointments.” You tell them,” Kinnamon said.
He said it was a huge financial hit for him and the vendors involved.
KDKA Investigates has learned that the space will be converted to a hobby lobby on June 1, 2024 and all convention days scheduled after June 1 will no longer take place.
The Oxford Development Company said:
“We are pleased to welcome Hobby Lobby as a new business that will serve the needs of the local community and region. This new venture in the heart of Monroeville’s retail business district will create jobs that will contribute to the revitalization of Monroeville through the regular presence of employees, customers and suppliers. Events at the center scheduled to take place before June 1 will take place as currently scheduled. Events scheduled after June 1 have been notified of the convention center closure effective June 1, 2024.”
Businesses worry about impact of Monroeville Convention Center closure 03:09
Providers who contacted KDKA-TV believe this will take a toll on the local economy.
“This is a hit in more ways than one and it affects more than just us as showrunners, it affects more than just individual vendors,” Kinnamon said. “It’s just that the whole economics of selling kind of collapses and the city kind of sucks when that happens too.”
Steel City Con posted on social media that the lease for the April shows was not affected, but they are now trying to find new space for the August and December shows. The post said:
“This week, the Monroeville Convention Center (MCC) and its owners, Oxford Development, informed us that Oxford Development has entered into a 12-year lease with Hobby Lobby effective June 1, 2024, at which time it will cease operations and cease operations all show rentals. Our April show will not be affected. Steel City Con currently has shows scheduled for August 9-11 and December 6-8, 2024, and we are currently in discussions with several venues in the greater Pittsburgh area about rescheduling these shows. We thank the Monroeville Convention Center and the City of Monroeville for hosting Steel City Con for over 30 years. We look forward to hosting our shows in a new venue as planned and will make further announcements shortly.”
The events at the Monroeville Convention Center are important to restaurants like Wooden Nickel and the workers who make their living there.
“It will hurt us because it’s a big weekend every time they come to town. It’s going to slow us down,” said Mary Lou Urban of Wooden Nickel.
Amber Schiavo works at the mall. She fears business will dry up with the convention center gone.
“The conventions that take place there bring a lot of business to this mall,” Schiavo said. “This mall is struggling as it is. We don’t want it to be the third century.”
“I guarantee the hotel is not happy about this either,” Schiavo added. “That’s a lot of business they do for people from abroad. And for the vendors and the guests who stay there.”
A front desk employee at the DoubleTree by Hilton told KDKA-TV on Monday that he had just canceled five reservations and that at least 60 percent of the hotel’s business came from events at the convention center.
KDKA-TV reached out to Mayor Nick Gresock and the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday but did not receive a response.
The Monroeville Council will hold a public meeting Tuesday evening.
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