The competitive California convention market is becoming even more so: San Diego and Anaheim are in the midst of convention center expansions, and San Francisco will follow suit next year. And a host of other improvements are on the way, including new ballparks for the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres; a major expansion of Anaheim's venerable Disneyland, which turns 45 next year; and an entertainment and retail complex on the Long Beach waterfront.

San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center is being expanded: Moscone West will be a separate building with 300,000 square feet of exhibit space and 125,000 square feet of meeting space. Excavation of the site is scheduled to begin in February 2000 with completion in early 2003.

Meanwhile, San Francisco International Airport is in the midst of a $2.4 billion expansion, the centerpiece of which is the new International Terminal, due to open in spring 2000. The 2.5-million-square-foot terminal will have 26 gates sized to accommodate wide-body jets, and twice the ticket-counter and retail space as the existing International Terminal, which will be used for domestic flights. In addition, the Bay Area Rapid Transit is being extended nearly nine miles to Millbrae, with a stop at the new International Terminal. The airport's BART station opens in the fall of 2001; travel time between the airport and downtown San Francisco will be approximately 30 minutes.

ANAHEIM/NEWPORTBEACH/ORANGE COUNTY When the Anaheim Convention Center's expansion is completed in late 2000, the center will have a redesigned front entrance as well as 815,000 square feet of exhibit space; 130,000 square feet of meeting space; 200,000 square feet of lobby, registration, and pre-function space; and an 8,000-seat arena. hotel news * At Disneyland in Anaheim, a new theme park, Disney's California Adventure, will include construction of Disney's Grand Californian, a 750-room, Arts and Crafts-style hotel with 20,000 square feet of meeting space. It opens in 2001.

* The 454-room Doubletree Hotel Anaheim/Orange County has refurbished ballrooms and pre-function space, part of a redo that also included the remodeling of five junior suites, which can be used as hospitality suites. The hotel offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

important info Anaheim/Orange County Visitors & Convention Bureau * (714) 999-8999

* Fax: (714) 776-4681


Newport Beach CVB * (949) 722-1711, (800) 94-COAST

* Fax: (949) 722-1612


Anaheim Convention Center * (714) 765-8950 The center has 815,000 square feet of exhibit space and by late 2000 will have 130,000 square feet of meeting space. Total Hotel Tax: 15% in Anaheim, 10% in Newport Beach

LONG BEACH The second phase of the Queensway Bay Project, which is redeveloping 300 acres of oceanfront land near downtown, will involve a 520,000-square-foot entertainment and retail area to be completed in 2001. The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific was completed last year.

hotel news * A 430-room Marriott with 15,000 square feet of meeting space will be built downtown near the convention center. It is scheduled to open in spring 2001.

* The Hotel Queen Mary, with 60,000 square feet of meeting space, has launched a renovation of its 365 guest rooms and public areas. Part of a $200 million, two-phase renovation, the renovation is due for completion late this year.

important info Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center * (562) 436-3636

The center offers 224,000 square feet of exhibit space, 82,615 square feet of meeting space, a 13,500-seat arena, and 852-seat and 3,051-seat theaters.

Long Beach Area CVB * (562) 436-3645

* (800) 4LB-STAY

* Fax: (562) 435-5653


Total Hotel Tax: 12%

LOS ANGELES The Staples Center arena opens this month next to the Los Angeles Convention Center. The arena, home court for basketball's Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers and home ice for hockey's Los Angeles Kings, seats 19,000. Convention groups can use it for large-scale special events. Also in Los Angeles, the Metro Rail subway system was extended this year to Hollywood. hotel news * The 1,354-room Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites downtown completed a $25 million renovation of all guest rooms this spring. Also, 10,000 square feet of meeting was added, for a total of 100,000 square feet.

* The Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica completed a $5.5 million renovation this year that included all 253 guest rooms and the 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

* The Hyatt Regency Los Angeles this year renovated all 485 guest rooms at a cost of $2.25 million. The property has 24,700 square feet of meeting space.

important info Los Angeles CVB * (213) 624-7300

* Fax: (213) 624-9746


Los Angeles Convention Center * (213) 741-1151

The center has 870,000 square feet of exhibit space in four halls, and 125,000 square feet of meeting space.

Total Hotel Tax: 14 %

SAN FRANCISCO hotel news * The 423-room W San Francisco opened in May across from the Moscone Convention Center. The 30-story luxury hotel has 9,500 square feet of meeting space in seven rooms.

* The 285-room Four Seasons Hotel and Tower, part of a mixed-use, $350 million development, is under construction close to the Moscone Convention Center. The hotel, to open in early 2001, will have 16,300 square feet of meeting space. wThe Hyatt Regency San Francisco, with 67,000 square feet of meeting space, will complete the $12 million renovation of its 805 guest rooms by spring 2000.

important info San Francisco CVB * (415) 974-6900

* Fax: (415) 974-1992


Moscone Convention Center * (415) 974-4000

The Moscone Center's Moscone South has 260,560 square feet of exhibit space and 60,920 square feet of meeting space; Moscone North offers 181,400 square feet of exhibit space and 53,440 square feet of meeting space; and the Esplanade Ballroom has 42,750 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

Total Hotel Tax: 14%

SAN DIEGO The development focus is on the downtown bayfront, where the San Diego Convention Center is undergoing a massive expansion, adding 276,000 square feet of exhibit space; 40 meeting rooms; and 170,000 square feet of pre-function, lobby, registration, and circulation space. The project is to be completed in September 2001. Next year, the convention center will enhance its rooftop pavilion; the major change will be the addition of glass walls to the 90,000-square-foot, open-air, column-free area.

Come 2002 or 2003, downtown will have a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres, south and within walking distance of the convention center.

hotel news * The 875-room Hyatt Regency San Diego is renovating its guest rooms, exclusive of the one- and two-bedroom suites. The property is next to the convention center and has 45,500 square feet of meeting space

* The Hyatt Regency La Jolla late last year added the Barcino Pavilion, a glass-enclosed, 6,000-square-foot space adjacent to the hotel. It can be used for meetings, receptions, and trade shows, and is surrounded by the hotel's gardens. The Hyatt Regency also plans to renovate its three 15th-floor VIP suites in the first quarter of 2000. The property has 419 rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

* The San Diego Paradise Point Resort is remodeling its 462 cottage-style guest rooms. The 44-acre property has 32,000 square feet of meeting space.

important info San Diego CVB * (619) 232-3101

* Fax: (619) 696-9371


San Diego Concourse * (619) 615-4100

The concourse offers 64,000 square feet of exhibition space, and 10,000 square feet of space in 18 meeting rooms.

San Diego Convention Center * (619) 525-5000

The center has 254,000 square feet of exhibition space, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 90,000-square-foot, open-air, rooftop pavilion.

Total Hotel Tax: 10.5 %

Association Meeting Planners Say The Sacramento-based California Building Industry Association has held its annual conference and trade show in San Francisco for 41 years running. "We looked into the idea of rotating the show to Las Vegas and San Diego as well, but, resoundingly, our attendees wanted us to keep it in San Francisco," says Linda Baysari, vice president, meetings and conventions. "The tradition of San Francisco is so strong, and the city's a magnet for people from the Pacific Rim, which is a key market for us." Besides, many attendees have become accustomed to extending their stay in Northern California by tacking on extra days in the Napa Valley, north of San Francisco, or the Monterey Peninsula, to the south.

The meeting and trade show draws some 18,000 people and uses the South Hall of the Moscone Convention Center. Baysari foresees spilling over into the North Hall as well. The Moscone Center is an anchor of the city's South of Market, which was once the province of vacant warehouse and industrial lots, but is now a center of art and nightlife, with restaurants, galleries, nightclubs, and hotels, including Starwood Hotels' new W San Francisco. Baysari used W San Francisco for the first time this year and praised for its "innovative and trendy" service standards and decor.

Baysari says of bringing a convention to San Francisco: "The challenge is securing the room block you need and making sure you have terms in the contract--especially the attrition clauses--you can live with." She adds that convention rates in the $180s are the norm.

The National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association usually holds its annual meeting in a convention center or a downtown hotel, but in San Diego this past summer the group met in neither. "We were too small for the center and too large for some of the downtown properties," said Sharon Seay, executive director. Instead, the Atlanta-based group of African-American funeral directors stayed at the sprawling Town & Country Hotel in the Mission Valley district northeast of downtown.

Seay had some trepidation because her attendees--the five-night meeting in early August drew about 1,000--prefer downtown locations and the Town & Country has more a resort feel. Also, the Town & Country's exhibit hall is a converted garage. "But the decorator fixed up the exhibit hall nicely and it worked well for us," Seay said. And the attendees enjoyed the convenience of having the region's light rail, the San Diego Trolley, stop very close to the hotel. They boarded the trolley for the Gaslamp Quarter, an area of downtown known for dining and nightlife, Old Town, and Mission Valley's shopping centers.

Because the hotel is next door to the new Riverwalk Golf Club, which opened in 1998 with 27 holes of golf, Seay took advantage of the proximity by holding the association's first-ever golf tournament.

The association received support from the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, which Seay said was "fabulous from beginning to end." The bureau helped locate Afrocentric artists for studio visits.