Mission Bay Visitors Center out of a lease after surge in online - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mission Bay Visitors Center out of a lease after surge in online reservations

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council Tuesday terminated the lease for the Mission Bay Visitors Center, which operated profitably for more than 40 years until falling victim to modern technology.

The center at 2688 East Mission Bay Drive has been closed since Sept. 30, after efforts by lessee Ted Jardine to restructure the business failed.

Jardine had operated the facility with his family since 1968 and the lease was a money-maker for the city for years.

Jardine and his employees helped travelers make hotel reservations, gave directions to tourist attractions and sold gifts, snacks and theme park tickets.

"They served visitors with warmth and personalized service," said City Councilwoman Donna Frye.

Most of the center's revenue came from selling advertising to area hotels and tourist attractions.

However, the growth of online reservations systems cut into the center's business, with gross revenues dropping from $1.6 million in 1999 to not quite $310,000 in the first nine months of this year.

The center booked 452 hotel reservations this year, compared to 16,630 in 1997.

Layoffs, refocusing the business and $200,000 of Jardine's own money were unable to turn the operation around, according to city staff.

A 20-year lease that went into effect in 1995 was terminated with no penalty to Jardine, who won accolades from many members of the City Council.

Frye called Jardine "the bulldog of Mission Bay."

City staff said they hope to have another tenant for the building within six months.

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