Enjoy the Hynes Convention Center/ICA stop while you can, T riders. It may soon be gone.
Well, the name, anyway.
Uniquely, the stop’s inspirations are on borrowed time: There’s a $62 million Institute of Contemporary Art replacement being built on the waterfront, set to open next year; and the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center has long been headed for sale with the opening of the larger, $800 million Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Boston is reputed to be the only U.S. city with two convention centers — not necessarily something to brag about when convention business is down.
It’s true that momentum for shutting down the Hynes has died. Gov. Mitt Romney, who proposed selling it, was a no-show at a hearing last month on its future, and the commonwealth’s other top politicians are citing evidence and anecdote that keeping the Hynes around will ensure tourism dollars for the area. There’s no date for a decision, although a government commission is supposed to make a suggestion by the fall. Even if the suggestion is to sell or lease, the state may be slow to move, and so may buyers or leasees.
If the Hynes and ICA disappear, bet that Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officials will revive their hopes of selling T stop naming rights. They tried this in 2000, aiming for $22 million over five years for South Station ($2 million), Back Bay and Downtown Crossing ($1 million each) and Sullivan Square ($500,000). Even after the costs and commitments were lowered, no one bid.
So what would the Hynes/ICA stop be called? Without a Dunkin' Donuts or Hooters claiming it, the city would be forced to think of something descriptive of the area — and a good guess would be “Newbury.” Surely the city would be pleased to make it easier for visitors to find Newbury Street, which is all about commerce.
And better that than the only nearby business that would be likely to go for the naming rights this time, since it’s unclear if Boston is ready, or will ever be, for the green line’s “Virgin stop.”