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House backs expansion of Boston convention center

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm •  Published: May 28, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — A proposed $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was approved by House lawmakers on Wednesday, with backers saying all of Massachusetts would benefit from the additional jobs, tax dollars and tourism that would flow from the project.

The bill, which passed on a 130-19 vote, directs proceeds from the state's existing hotel room occupancy tax to cover bonds that would be issued to pay for the expansion. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Supporters said the convention center in the South Boston neighborhood, which opened in 1997, isn't large enough and doesn't have enough adjoining hotel rooms to attract many large-scale national and international meetings, causing Boston to miss out on more than a dozen big events each year.

"It's going to bring people to Boston who want to visit here and will then visit other parts of Massachusetts and spend money in your communities," said Rep. Peter Kocot, a Democrat who represents the western Massachusetts city of Northampton and urged his colleagues to support the bill.

The proposed expansion would increase by more than 50 percent the facility's current 2.1 million square feet of total space and allow three new hotels to be built, giving Boston one of the five largest convention centers in the U.S., supporters said. The project would create about 2,000 permanent jobs and about 4,000 temporary construction jobs, they added, while generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax receipts.

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