Organizations should have no trouble finding a new or recently polished convention center for their events. Growth and improvements in the sector continue seemingly unabated. Here are some highlights from cities around the country and the world.
The new, 2.3 million-square-foot Washington, D.C., Convention Center opened on schedule in March. The largest building in Washington and one of the 10 largest convention centers in the United States, it has nearly 725,000 square feet of exhibit space and 125,000 square feet of meeting rooms — more than twice the exhibition space of the old center.
The new 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. There is 150,000 square feet of meeting space, which can be divided into four separate, column-free halls. GICC will be the centerpiece of Gateway Center, a multipurpose complex with new hotels, office buildings, and a people-mover from Hartsfield.
Cincinnati Convention Center breaks ground on a $160 million expansion and renovation in January. The 750,000-square-foot redesigned center will include nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than 45,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 17,500-square-foot junior ballroom. The existing facility will also be renovated during the process, which is expected to be complete in mid-2006.
In Aberdeen, Scotland, the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Center completed an expansion and renovation in April. The main hall capacity was increased to 2,000 delegates, and the auditorium gained 200 seats, for a total of 500. Two multipurpose halls, with capacities of 685 and 700, were added, along with 23 new breakout rooms.
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 phased construction process.
Branson, Mo., has approved a new downtown lakefront development, Branson Landing. The $300 million mixed-use complex will feature a 220,000-square-foot convention center with adjoining 300-room hotel and an 80-acre retail shopping and restaurant district. The convention center and hotel are expected to open in fall 2005.
The $47 million Overland Park, Kansas, Convention Center opened in November with 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, plus 25,000 square feet of banquet space and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.
In Fort Wayne, Ind., groundbreaking took place May 1 for the expansion and renovation of Grand Wayne Convention Center. The $27 million expansion incorporates a new 50,000-square-foot convention hall, a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. Completion of the project is expected in spring 2005.
A summer 2005 opening is projected for the Puerto Rico Convention Center, the centerpiece of a $400 million project on 113 acres on San Juan's waterfront. The 580,000-square-foot convention center will feature a 152,700-square-foot exhibition hall, a 39,500-square-foot ballroom (the largest in the Caribbean), and 36,200 square feet of meeting rooms.
New Mexico passed legislation that will allow Las Cruces to institute a daily $2.50 lodging surcharge to finance the construction of a proposed 80,000-square-foot, $20 million convention center. Construction should begin in 2004 and be complete in 2006.
Iberostar Paraiso Convention Center plans to open this December, 25 minutes south of Cancun International Airport on Mexico's Riviera Maya. The facility will feature 70,000 square feet of space that can be divided into seven meeting rooms. In addition, there will be seven boardrooms.
The 500,000-square-foot Knoxville Convention Center, unveiled last October, is the centerpiece of downtown business and entertainment district, adjacent to the Sunsphere.
When Hartford, Conn.'s new convention center opens in March 2005, it will be the second-largest in New England (second only to the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center), with a 145,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 40,000-square-foot ballroom.