SAN ANTONIO – The first test of how the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center would host large gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown remains in limbo.
Visit San Antonio has two conventions, Herbalife and the Texas High School Coaches Association, set for July.
"I think that probably if there's not a decision by June 1st, they will probably look at alternatives or other opportunities," said Cassandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio.
Matej said she would like Gov. Greg Abbott to announce guidelines for convention centers to safely reopen.
“These are strategies that we are looking at right now, as we speak,” Abbott said Tuesday.
The governor said Texas is evaluating what other states are doing, even Disneyworld and Disneyland.
“We can do so with conventions, just like we have begun to open up malls, by following safe strategies,” Abbott said.
Matej said if the governor announces those guidelines sooner than later, “We could move move forward with possibly hosting some conventions midsummer.”
She said wedding venues and movie theaters are meeting spaces, but at the HBG Convention Center, “They can manage the layout of the space. They can manage the flow of attendees.”
Matej said thankfully the massive convention facility was expanded and renovated several years ago.
For example, since social distancing will likely remain in place and crowd capacity could be limited, Matej said the 80,000-plus square foot, column-free exhibit hall could be divided to accommodate individual meetings.
Matej said although 28 conventions have canceled since March, there are still 48 others planned for the remainder of the year, worth an estimated $174 million in revenue.
Matej said attendance may be down this year, but she's optimistic.
“We have not seen any cancellations in 2021," she said.