Hotel bookings for Series go regional

Medicine and baseball make for strange bedfellows this weekend. The odd pairing also makes for extremely tight quarters and a huge windfall for Center City and area hotels. About 5,000 chest doctors and thousands of baseball fans have pushed the occupancy rate for Center City hotels to 100 percent this week. Some say the last major citywide convention to generate this level of excitement and buzz was the Biotech Convention of 2005. "This is beyond Center City. This is regional," said Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, which represents 87 hotels throughout the region, including 41 Center City hotels. "All hotels in the region should benefit." With all 10,318 Center City hotel rooms booked, the city directly benefits. Each room is taxed 14 percent, with half in the form of a sales tax that goes to city and state coffers - and the other half to the city's convention and marketing agencies. From the hotel room, parking and sales and amusement taxes, the city could generate $2.5 million this weekend. Visitors are also anticipated to spend an additional $17 million on restaurants and other businesses. Grose said area hotels would play host to visitors not only for the World Series, but also accommodate a premiere national convention of the American College of Chest Physicians during the same time. Grose said the Chest Physicians had signed up 5,000 convention attendees and booked 11,280 room-nights for this Saturday and Sunday - long before the Phillies earned their way deep into the postseason. In addition, it is Penn parents weekend in University City, and Villanova University is having its homecoming weekend. So Center City hotel rooms were already difficult to secure before this week's huge surge in demand by baseball fans and about 500 members of various media outlets. Jack Ferguson, executive vice president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Authority, estimated that the World Series could generate 7,500 room-nights among out-of-town visitors. "Of that, we have 1,000 rooms blocked out throughout the area for people specifically affiliated with the World Series in some way," he said, "whether they're sponsors, media or whomever. We've taken care of them." Grose said many Center City hotels would encourage their employees to wear Phillies attire this weekend. There will be Phillies drinks specials at some. The Courtyard by Marriott is even flying a Phillies banner over its porte-cache. "Obviously, from the hospitality-industry perspective, it truly is a home run," said Larry Needle, executive director of Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau that works to bring sporting events into the city. "We can't take credit for this one, but we can thank the Phillies." Needle said the city had been winning ever since the regular season ended. About 3,000 visiting fans came in for the playoff series against the Milwaukee Brewers, and about 5,000 were in town for the League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This isn't the weekend to expect a deal. The 1,408-room Philadelphia Marriott and its sisters 269-room Residence Inn and 498-room Courtyard by Marriott represent 21 percent of the Center City inventory for hotel rooms. All are booked solid. "Our reservation center has been referring guests to the closest Marriott, which at this point, is going to be in the suburbs," said Jim Gratton, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott on Juniper Street. Celso Thompson, director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt Regency on Penn's Landing, has been referring guests to hotels outside of Center City, including in Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill. Thompson said the Hyatt's 350 rooms were sold out, mostly because of the Chest Physicians convention. It is also host to the American Chemical Society convention and normal weekend weddings. Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or

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