Oracle OpenWorld aims to draw a crowd

Despite companies cutting employee travel and canceling conventions nationwide, Oracle is predicting next week’s OpenWorld to infuse its usual $100 million into San Francisco’s economy.

The massive convention, held Sunday through Thursday at Moscone Center and on nearby Howard Street, is expected to draw 43,000 attendees, which is consistent with the past two years, according to Kim Pineda, a spokeswoman for the Redwood City-based enterprise software company.

Also holding steady are the more than 450 companies exhibiting at the show. Some 15,500 rooms have been booked, according to San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau data. That number is up from 11,000 in 2007.

The only recession-related trend that’s apparent this year, according to Pineda, is attendees taking advantage of discount offers from Oracle and hotels.

While techies flock to the conference — which secured The Rolling Stones to headline its appreciation event on Treasure Island on Wednesday — San Francisco is still recovering from two large tech companies canceling their 2009 conventions. Network Appliance pulled out of its planned February meeting and Cisco Systems canceled its August convention. Together, the events were expected to pump $47 million into the local economy.

The City’s overall convention attendance is down 10 percent from last year and room revenue is down 20 percent, which is in line with the competition — like Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego — said Dan Goldes, chief stakeholder officer with The City’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

OpenWorld, he said, has managed to thrive despite the economic downturn.

“Oracle has been a very aggressive company in acquiring other companies. That speaks to why their numbers continue to grow. Every time I read about Oracle acquiring yet another company, that means OpenWorld is getting bigger or staying strong,” Goldes said.

Though October is typically the busiest month for conventions, OpenWorld falls on the same dates as Fleet Week, the Italian Heritage Parade and a 49ers game.

“Try to get a hotel room between San Jose and Santa Rosa for the peak days and you’ll have a pretty hard time,” Goldes said.

The event fills rooms not only in The City but also the region, but people who are working at hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues serving attendees are also contributing to city coffers.

“They go home to the Mission, the Sunset or the Richmond and spend their paychecks at the grocery store and the dry cleaners. The dollars that come in flow to every part of San Francisco,” Goldes said.

Oracle OpenWorld 2009 traffic, transit impacts

Street closures: Howard Street between Third and Fourth streets continuously for nine days beginning at 8 p.m. today and ending at 8 p.m. Oct. 16.

Detour routes: Westbound Howard Street traffic will be detoured south on Second Street to Harrison Street. For those traveling from north of Market Street on Montgomery Street, the detour will direct traffic from New Montgomery Street westbound along Howard Street, then south on Hawthorne Street to either Folsom or Harrison streets.

Muni lines affected: 9AX/BX-Bayshore Express; 16AX/BX-Noriega; 12-Folsom; 30-Stockton; 38/38L-Geary; 41-Union; 45-Union/Stockton;
76-Marin Headlands; and 81X-Caltrain Express.

Source: Municipal Transportation Agency

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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