Las Vegas is delaying a planned $890 million convention center upgrade amid falling visitor numbers and reduced gaming receipts.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority projects a 21.8% drop in room tax revenue for fiscal 2009; the agency responded this month by postponing construction plans until mid-2010. It will cost the LVCVA up to $5 million annually to service the project's existing debt. About $140 million has been committed to the project thus far, of which 68.5% is being financed. Construction was scheduled to finish in 2011. In February 2006, MWH Global Inc., Broomfield, Colo., with HTNB, Kansas City, Mo., was awarded a four-year, $45 million contract as construction manager.

The project had called for a new day-lit front lobby, facade and interior upgrades, and technology enhancements. It would have also added meeting rooms, a police substation, a transportation center, and 100,000-sq-ft worth of general session space, increasing the convention center's total size by 15.8% from 3.2 million sq ft to 3.8 million sq ft. Las Vegas hosts 44 of the nation's top 200 conventions and trade shows. But rising costs upped the project's price-tag by 17.2% in 2007.

"It has been something we have been evaluating," says LVCVA spokesman Vince Alberta. "With the recession, we think it is fiscally responsible and prudent not to incur additional debt at this time."