A citizen’s task force appointed by Mayor Jerry Sanders gave the thumbs up to a $753 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. While it still requires an additional land purchase, city council approval, and financing, the expansion project cleared its first major hurdle.

The 16-member task force voted overwhelming in favor of the expansion, estimating the new space would bring $698 million in revenue annually to the region, according to the report. The task force recommends adding 197,000 square feet of exhibition space, 108,000 square feet of meeting space, 80,000 square feet of ballroom space, and 49,000 square feet of retail space to the facility. Currently, the convention center has 615,000 square feet of exhibit space, 204,000 square feet of meeting space, and 80,000 square feet of ballroom space.

The expansion would be built on a parcel of land called the 5th Avenue Landing, and would be connected to the existing building by a $42 million pedestrian bridge. However, for the expansion to happen, the city would have to purchase some land at the site. The due diligence process to acquire the land is under way, according to the report.

The other potential obstacle is financing. The report outlines a number of potential funding sources, including increasing the city's hotel tax and establishing a new tax on food-and-beverage sales. “The report will be sent to the mayor who will then take the lead in working with stakeholders to identify appropriate funding and revenue sources,” says Steven Johnson, vice president, public affairs at the San Diego Convention Center Corp. The project will also need approval of the city council. “It has a long way to go. It is simply one step at a time,” says Johnson.

If all goes according to plan, the estimated construction start date is 2012.

Last year, San Diego voters defeated a ballot proposal that would have allowed construction of a deck for development over a marine cargo terminal in San Diego Harbor. Developers wanted to use the proposed 40-foot-tall deck, which would sit over the 96-acre 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, for a hotel, stadium, or an expansion of the nearby San Diego Convention Center.