The expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 4 and welcomed its first group, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, March 8–16. Its first medical meeting follows on March 18–24, when the Association of Peri-Operative Registered Nurses will bring 14,000 attendees to Philadelphia.
The $787 million project increases the size of the building by 62 percent, making it the 14th-largest convention center in the country. It has 679,000 square feet of exhibit space, including 528,000 square feet of contiguous space, up from 440,000 square feet. The center also boasts 152,000 square feet of meeting space, including 79 rooms, up from 90,000 square feet. In addition, the expansion adds a 55,400-square-foot ballroom. Overall, the expanded center has more than one million square feet of usable space.
The center now can host two conventions simultaneously, which will increase convention traffic by an estimated 1.5 million people per year, officials said. Further, the facility will create 2,000 new jobs in the city, contribute $10 million in state income tax annually, and contribute $150 million annually to the local economy.
“Like a rock thrown out into a pond, the work we’re doing at the center is rippling out and having a positive impact on our neighbors,” said Ahmeenah Young, president and chief executive officer, Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has already booked $2.7 billion in conventions at the new center, including many. About 50 percent of all meetings held in Philadelphia are life sciences–related, officials said.