Exhibitors optimistic at New York show opening

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NEW YORK - Strong and steady attendance at the Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show started with the line of patrons waiting for the doors of the Jacob K. Javits Center to open at noon Thursday.

"The traffic has been unbelievable for a Thursday afternoon," said Christian Brabender, a yacht specialist with MarineMax in Lindenhurst, N.Y., as the exhibit of Sea Ray yachts ranging from 37 to 51 feet that he was working had dozens of people stepping aboard.

Brabender said he had scheduled multiple meetings with serious buyers at the show and expected to close on at least two sales — "the new 51- and 37-footer."

The overall mood he's hearing from potential buyers is significantly improved from recent years. "I'm just not hearing the blues I was hearing three or four years ago," he said.

Gregg Miraglia, a sales consultant for MarineMax in Brick, N.J., stood next to two new entry-level sportboats from Bayliner — the 190 Deck Boat and the 16-foot Element. He said his confidence is high heading into 2013.

"We're going to have a very good year," he said. "Last year was busier than the year before, and we will undoubtedly be busier again this year."

Several other factors also are expected to provide a boost to the show's overall success. The multiyear, multibillion-dollar renovation of the 26-year-old Javits Center is nearly complete, revealing a brighter, more appealing showcase stage. Although the show’s overall square footage is less, about 260 exhibitors are participating and show manager Jonathan Pritko said that for the first time in years organizers had to turn down exhibitors who wanted space.

Fair post-holiday January weather and the absence of both of the local pro football teams from the NFL playoffs this weekend also should encourage steady foot traffic, Pritko said.

By the show's closing Sunday at 6 p.m., 40,000 to 44,000 visitors — comparable to last year's attendance — are expected.

- Rich Armstrong

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