Is it a sign of an improving convention economy? Several destinations have announced convention center expansion or renovation projects in recent months, including San Jose, Calif.; New Orleans, and Cleveland, while others cities, like Baltimore and Boston, are considering it.
In New Orleans, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will undergo a $50 million renovation that includes the construction of a 60,000-square-foot ballroom in Hall A. Also, the Julia Street entrance to Hall A will be transformed into a sunny, windowed entry plaza. The project also includes a new 4,660-square-foot junior ballroom with a rooftop terrace, and a 4,700-square-foot executive lounge. Hall A is the oldest part of the convention center.
“A city that hosts as many major meetings as New Orleans does needs a major ballroom,” said Bob Johnson, president/general manager of the Morial Convention Center. Construction is scheduled to start in December 2012. The first clients to use the space will be the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in January 2013.
The McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif., will see a $120 million expansion that will add 125,000 square feet of meeting space, including a new ballroom, to the center’s existing 425,000 square feet of space. The project is scheduled for completion in September 2013.
While construction continues on the 420,000-square-foot Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center, plans are under way to renovate the 2.2-million-square-foot International Exposition Center in Cleveland. The $30 million renovation is scheduled for completion in 2014, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business.
In Baltimore, city leaders are considering a proposal to expand the Baltimore Convention Center to 760,000 square feet and add a new arena and hotel, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. The plan hinges on the approval of $400 million in public dollars.
And in Boston, a state-appointed panel, The Convention Partnership, recommended a $2 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that would double its size, according to an article in The Boston Globe. The go-ahead from the panel is just the first step, as the project would require approval from the city and state legislatures.
Meanwhile, public meetings are being held in San Diego, where residents and businesses can give input on a proposed $700 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. City and port officials are finalizing financing arrangements for a project that would add more than 400,000 square feet of space to the convention center, according to the San Diego Business Journal.