Expanaheim!

Building a bigger Mouse trap

I heard it was kind of a war zone traffic-wise.

SANDY HIMMELBERG, EXCEEDINGLY PLEASANT MANAGER, ADAMS COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AND CONVENTION CENTER

I don't think we have much of an effect on what happens in Anaheim. We have 35,000 square feet that can be split up into seven rooms. We might have a wedding reception in one room, a family reunion in another and a high-school function in another—all on the same night. Our big events are the PRCA Rodeo and Fairfest and multiday gatherings like the Alfalfa Expo and the Walleye Association.

How do you go about selling Hastings?

I'm not really selling the area. I sell people on our customer service, which is second to none. I don't care how big a facility you're talking about. We really take care of our clients.

Okay, but if you had to sell the area . . . what would you tell people is going on in Hastings, Nebraska?

Not a whole lot. [laughing] I shouldn't have said that.

MIKE JIMINEZ, VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS, LOS ANGELES CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU

I think it definitely creates more of a product on the West Coast for us to compete against. They can now handle a fairly large event. They've really moved more into our market.

They obviously sell Disneyland. What can you counter with?

We're selling the Staples Center that was opened last year. Across from that, they're in the process of building a 1,200-room hotel, and there are also plans for an entertainment district with shops, maybe some live theater, possibly movie screens. In addition, there's a new performing-arts center going in with the Disney Concert Hall, which will be open in 2003. And just up the street, the archdiocese is building a new cathedral that is going to have a tremendous plaza area.

Of course, that's all in the future. What are you selling now?

We're fairly aggressive here. We have a strategic plan, and we're aggressive about following it. We made goals for the next three years, and our staff is really geared up to meet those goals.

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