MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) — The Monroeville Convention Center will close its doors this summer, and the news came as a surprise to many on Monday.
“The fact that it just came out of nowhere is very disheartening,” said Pittsburgh Gaming Expo showrunner Colt Dalmaso.
Dalmaso is just one of many showrunners who find themselves in trouble after receiving letters canceling their show contracts.
Several large event organizers told KDKA-TV’s Meghan Schiller that they learned of the cancellation with little or no explanation. Many began receiving calls from disgruntled sellers who were reading posts about the topic on social media.
“We were told the contract was canceled for major construction,” said Alex Kinnamon of the Pittsburgh Gaming Expo.
Kinnamon said his three-day event was planned for next October, but he now faces a logistical nightmare.
“You bring in bands, you bring in celebrities who are guests, you bring in all these individuals who are holding sales and exhibiting and selling their products at these shows. All these people are counting on these dates that tell them,” Kinnamon said.
He said it was a huge financial hit for himself and the sellers involved.
KDKA investigators learned that the space would transition on June 1, 2024 to a Hobby Lobby and that convention days scheduled after June 1 would be no more.
The Oxford Development Corporation said:
“We are excited to welcome Hobby Lobby as a new business to meet the needs of the local community and region. This new business located in the heart of Monroeville’s business district will create jobs that will contribute to the revitalization of Monroeville through the regular presence of employees. , customers and suppliers. Events scheduled at the center before June 1 will take place as currently scheduled, events scheduled after June 1 have received notice of the convention center closing effective June 1, 2024.”
Sellers who contacted KDKA-TV believe this will have detrimental consequences for the local economy.
“It’s a success in more ways than one and it doesn’t just affect us as showrunners, it doesn’t just affect individual vendors,” Kinnamon said. “The whole retail economy collapses and the city sucks too if that happens.”
Steel City Con posted on social media that the lease for their April shows would not be affected, but they are now trying to find a new space for their August and December shows. The message read:
“This week, the Monroeville Convention Center (MCC) and its owners, Oxford Development, informed us that effective June 1, 2024, Oxford Development has entered into a twelve-year lease with Hobby Lobby and will cease operations at that time- there, thereby ending its operations. all show leases. 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 Pittsburgh metro area to move 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 as planned in a new location and will make further announcements soon.
Events at the Monroeville Convention Center are huge for restaurants like Wooden Nickel and the workers who make their living there.
“It’s going to 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 when the convention center is gone.
“The conventions that happen there bring a lot of business to that mall,” Schiavo said. “This mall is struggling as it is. We don’t want it to turn into Century III.”
“I guarantee you the hotel is not happy about it either,” Schiavo added. “It means a lot of business for people from out of state. And for the vendors and guests who are staying there.”
An employee at the DoubleTree by Hilton office told KDKA-TV Monday that they 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.
Monroeville Council is holding a public meeting Tuesday evening.
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