In the wake of the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is slowing plans for its annual convention, scheduled to be held in New Orleans next May.
The trade association was supposed assign specific booths and other floor space to networks, equipment manufacturers and other vendors Wednesday. But the NCTA says it's postponing that process.
In a statement, the association says: "As the nation continues to focus its attention on the relief and recovery efforts in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast, NCTA is informing exhibitors that have reserved space for the 2006 National Show, scheduled for May 21 – 23 in New Orleans, that is it postponing assignment of exhibit space, which was to begin today."
The statement continued: "The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has posted a notice on its Web site that all city-wide conventions to be held in the Convention Center are canceled through March 31, 2006. NCTA has joined the nation in working to support recovery efforts in the region and continues to monitor the situation in New Orleans but has no further information to report at this time about the status of 2006 National Show."
With around 14,000 attendees, the National Show is a rather large convention. The area around convention center and French Quarter sustained less flood damage than other parts of New Orleans, but it’s unclear what shape the facility or the thousands of hotel rooms required will be in by next May.
No industry wants to be perceived as abandoning New Orleans, and conventions are financial lifeblood to the city. Plus, the cable convention is regularly held there. But if the city won’t be ready to host a convention, the NCTA needs to rush for a substitute location, which are usually booked two to four years in advance.
NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow said Wednesday that it may be "impossible to have the show in May in New Orleans," though he said he would "love" to be there. McSlarrow said he didn't have to make a decision on pulling the plug for at least a month, but was focusing for the moment on helping hurrican victims.
The convention center, of course, provided some of the ghastliest images after Katrina. It was filled with displaced flood victims who were suddenly homeless. Thousands of victims flocked to the facility in search of centralized distribution of food, water and medical care. But they sat it out for two days without government assistance. Several people died and a young girl was reportedly raped.