Following several years in which San Francisco's convention bureau has been decrying the visible homelessness and drug use on downtown streets as major potential deterrents for organizers of lucrative professional conventions, the city is losing one of its longstanding mainstays, Oracle's OpenWorld.
The San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA) confirmed the news in an email to its members Tuesday, saying that Oracle had made the "difficult decision" to relocate next year's OpenWorld conference to Las Vegas based on attendee feedback about how expensive hotel rooms are here. Also, they cited "poor street conditions," as CNBC reports.
Instead, in 2020 and the following two years, OpenWorld will be centered at Caesars Forum in Vegas. The SFTA estimates that the impact of the move will be $64 million in lost revenue to the city.
The news follows on 2018's headlines about the departure of "a major medical association" based in Chicago that decided to move its convention out of San Francisco after 2023, costing the city an estimated $40 million in lost revenue from its 15,000 attendees.
SFTA president and CEO Joe D’Alessandro told the Chronicle at the time that this was "the first time that we have had an out-and-out cancellation over the [homeless] issue, and this is a group that has been coming here every three or four years since the 1980s." D'Allesandro added, "There was a time when the biggest obstacle to having a convention here was that it can be expensive, but now we have this new factor."
OpenWorld typically brings 60,000 Oracle customers and partners to the city over five days in September, and it's been doing so every year since it launched in 1996. The conference also includes a concert with big-name performers, and this year it was at the Chase Center and featured John Mayer and Flo Rida.
This move marks a major milestone in that Oracle is a Bay Area-based company that for two decades has been bringing customers to its home turf for its convention.
Caesar's Forum, which does not open until next year, will boast a 550,000 square foot conference center and "the two largest ballrooms in the world," according to its website. Oracle said that Las Vegas's "vast amenities are tailor-made for hosting large-scale events, and we look forward to bringing the industry’s most comprehensive technology and developer conference to America’s premier hospitality destination."
In a statement given to KRON 4 and others, the company said, "Oracle continues to enjoy a strong relationship with the City of San Francisco and partners such as the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. We look forward to working with our longstanding counterparts in San Francisco on future events."
Oracle recently bought the naming rights of the former AT&T Park, which is now known as Oracle Park.