The Convention Center Authority Board is expected to choose its vice chairman, Thomas "Buck" Riley, to succeed former City Councilman Michael Nutter as chairman of the panel.
Riley, a Republican, who is a founding partner of a Paoli law firm, said after a brief meeting of the board yesterday that no decision on Nutter's successor had been made.
But Riley said the 14-member board discussed his selection as chairman in a closed session before the public meeting, adding that, "if the board asks me, I'll serve."
Nutter, a Democrat, resigned as chairman abruptly two weeks ago to concentrate on running for mayor of Philadelphia.
Riley has held the No. 2 spot on the board since early 2003, when Chester County commissioners named him their representative at a time of upheaval for the Convention Center Authority. Riley and Nutter were both appointed shortly after the Republican-led General Assembly adopted a law that took power over the authority away from the city and gave it to the governor and the legislature.
The board considered voting on the chairmanship at yesterday's session, which was not a regularly scheduled meeting, but Pennsylvania's open-meetings law requires more notice before a vote could be taken, Riley said.
Members of the board, who are picked by the governor and political leaders from the city and suburbs, have discussed looking for an individual with professional experience in the convention or hospitality business.
But one member, who asked not to be named, said Riley was considered a good compromise candidate who would be popular with Republican leaders in the General Assembly.
Gov. Rendell, who along with the legislature controls funding for the $700 million expansion of the Convention Center, has no position on who the chairman should be, spokesman Chuck Ardo said.
Riley said he was a strong supporter of the expansion project, which will almost double exhibit space in the center when it is finished in late 2009. He said that as chairman he would help the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the authority sales force, as Nutter did, calling on potential customers who can bring meetings and conventions to the city.
Riley added that he once believed that the suburbs and city had little in common, but Willard G. Rouse 3d, the late developer and the first chairman of the authority board, in the 1990s, convinced him otherwise.
"I think there is a responsibility for all of us," Riley said, "to look at this on a regional basis."