Georgia International Convention Center celebrated its grand opening June 9. The center, in College Park near Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, is a 400,000-square-foot facility with the largest ballroom in Georgia, at 40,000 square feet. The GICC's 150,000 square feet of meeting space can be divided into four separate column-free halls. The 9,800-square-foot Culinary Arts Center can serve 4,000 meals at one time. GICC will be the centerpiece of Gateway Center, a multipurpose complex with new hotels, office buildings, a consolidated rental car facility for Hartsfield, and a People Mover from the airport to the GICC.

Groundbreaking took place in June for the Virginia Beach Convention Center, which will be constructed in the same location as the present Pavilion Convention Center. The new center will encompass 505,000 square feet, including a 143,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a 31,029-square-foot ballroom, and 28,929 square feet of meeting space. The Pavilion will remain fully operational during the the first phase of construction, scheduled for completion in summer 2005. Phase I will include about 57,700 square feet of exhibit space, the ballroom, and close to 20,000 square feet of meeting space. The balance of exhibit and meeting space is expected to be completed in January 2007.

The city of Branson, Mo., has approved a downtown lakefront development, Branson Landing. The $300 million mixed-use complex will feature a multipurpose convention center with adjoining 300-room hotel, which will open in fall 2005. The 220,000-square-foot Branson Regional Convention Center will have 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, 20,000 square feet for ballrooms and banquet rooms, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

Hotel News

Atlantic City, N.J,'s 1,625-room Tropicana Casino and Resort broke ground in April on a new tower, designed to cater to groups, with 502 guest rooms. A new 20,000-square-foot meeting and convention facility, with boardrooms and hospitality suites overlooking the ocean, will occupy the entire top floor of the tower. Also part of the new construction is The Quarter, a 200,000-square-foot retail, dining, and entertainment complex. Opening is scheduled for March 2004.