The SBC Executive Committee met in a special-called meeting Thursday (April 28) to vote on moving the 2023 annual meeting from Charlotte to New Orleans and receive an update on the cost of the investigation into allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims.
Erik Cummings, chair of the EC’s Events and Strategic Planning Committee, introduced EC vice president for communications Jonathan Howe and Bill Townes, former EC chief financial officer now assisting on a contract basis, to explain how recent growth in annual meeting attendance necessitated the switch from Charlotte to New Orleans.
Howe explained that it was “simply a matter of math” leading to the decision and that when Charlotte was originally selected, it reflected the annual meeting attendance at that time. Annual meeting locations scheduled through 2028 are in line with current attendance projections, he noted.
Charlotte was confirmed as the 2023 host city by messengers to the 2016 SBC Annual Meeting in St. Louis. Since that meeting, attendance at the annual event has grown, which means the 280,000-square-foot Charlotte Convention Center is not large enough to host the event, which is expected to draw more than 15,000 attendees. Space requirements for hosting an SBC annual meeting now exceed 400,000 square feet.
Making the decision more than a year out saved costs that could have occurred had the decision come closer to the annual meeting, said Townes. As it stands, costs to fulfill contracts and obligations to Charlotte as well as secure new contracts in New Orleans “may range from $150,000-$230,000”, according to Townes. Howe noted that remaining in Charlotte could have cost the Convention more than $900,000 in lost revenues and sponsorships due to space constraints.
After a brief discussion, EC members voted unanimously to approve the move.