The days when convention centers could give away extras--like free water at drinking fountains instead of $55 water cooler rentals--are long past. Many of these facilities, which used to operate as "loss leaders," are now expected to operate in the black as local governments cut back on subsidies. Because centers were originally built as money losers, "for years event organizers have not been paying full freight at convention centers," says John Swinburn, vice president of operations for the ...

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