Providence show has new owner - Soundings Online

Providence show has new owner

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Newport Harbor Corp. takes the helm

Newport Harbor Corp. takes the helm

The people who put on the Newport International and Newport Spring boat shows have expanded their presence in the New England boat show market. The group, called the Newport Harbor Corporation, in July purchased the Providence Boat Show.

“We’ve already had a lot of success in the boat show business,” says Newport Harbor Corporation CEO Paul O’ Reilly. “We are resourced to grow in that area and have the management capabilities to operate a show like the Providence Boat Show, which is in our own backyard. We think the Providence show complements our summer shows. We think this is a great opportunity to help the show grow.”

George Hawkins, founder and former president of the Providence Boat Show, says that between 22,000 and 24,000 people from all over New England came to the 13th annual installment of the show, held in mid-January at the Rhode Island Convention Center and the adjoining Dunkin’ Donuts Center. More than 450 boats representing nearly 200 brands were on display, and more than 250 exhibitors were on hand.

“I wasn’t planning to sell the show,” Hawkins says. “A few months ago I was contacted by a third party inquiring whether or not I’d be interested in selling. I thought about it for a moment and said, ‘Sure.’ Somehow the people at the Newport Harbor Corporation heard about the talks and they became interested, too. They have plenty of experience putting on shows and have plenty of people to do it. How can they miss?”

Newport Harbor Corporation executives say they hope to expand the Providence Boat show into New England’s premiere winter boat show. “The Providence show is a strong show that’s been growing,” O’Reilly says. “The market is there. We have a lot of faith in the boating industry right now and think the show is held at a great time of year, with boaters beginning to think about the upcoming season.”

Attendees can also look forward to changes at the boat show’s two venues, says Nancy Piffard, show director at the Newport Exhibition Group — Newport Harbor Corporation’s trade and consumer show division. “The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is getting a complete overhaul,” explains Piffard. “The ceilings will be higher, which means we can get larger sailboats inside. Work will also be done to construct a walkway connecting the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and the Rhode Island Convention Center. All the work will happen behind the scenes and should be finished by 2008. In the meantime the 2007 show will go on as expected and without interference.

“We hope to continue with [Hawkins’] success.” Piffard adds.

The 2007 Providence Boat Show is scheduled for Jan. 11 to 14. www.providenceboatshow.com