IN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., the 350,000-square-foot Palm Beach County Convention Center opened in January. Three miles from Palm Beach International Airport, the new center features a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, and 23,000 square feet of flexible breakout space, divisible into 23 rooms. Wireless Internet connections and fiber-optic and CAT6 cabling are available throughout the facility as are LCD and plasma screens displaying meeting schedules and events, keeping attendees abreast of convention center happenings throughout the day.
In Daytona Beach, Fla., the Volusia County Council has given the green light to a $57 million expansion of the Ocean Center Convention and Entertainment Complex. The project, which is scheduled for completion in February 2007, will add 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and 30,000 square feet of new meeting space. The center will continue to be used for conventions and meetings throughout the expansion period.
The Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, Va., is under construction and set to open in January. The sprawling complex will feature 344,000 total square feet of convention and exhibit space, 35 meeting rooms with capacity for 14,000 delegates, a 108,000-square-foot exhibit hall with oversized freight-loading doors, and a grand ballroom with banquet seating for more than 2,000. Connected to the center by a covered walkway, a John Q. Hammons Embassy Suites Hotel is also scheduled to open in 2005. With more than 300 suites, the hotel will bring the number of hotel rooms near the convention center campus to 2,099.
In Madison, Wis., the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center recently finished a $2.5 million renovation that included new carpeting, chairs, and movable wall coverings; and upgraded audiovisual equipment. Movable walls were installed in existing rooms, creating new meeting spaces of up to 3,680 square feet.
The $211 million, one-million-square-foot DeVos Place convention center opened its doors last December in the heart of Grand Rapids, Mich. The 162,000-square-foot exhibition hall is the second-largest convention facility in Michigan. The center's 40,000-square-foot ballroom, to be completed in early 2005, will seat 3,250 people for banquets.
The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau announced expansion plans for the Salt Palace Convention Center in August. A $52 million construction plan will enlarge the facility by 40 percent in 23 months. Plans call for an additional 145,000 square feet of exhibit space and 72,000 square feet of new meeting room space. When complete, the Salt Palace will offer 515,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 125,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 45,000-square-foot ballroom. With 685,000 total square feet, the Salt Palace will be one of the largest convention centers in the West. The facility was one of the first in the country to offer a wireless environment for meetings and convention delegates. The center is surrounded by nearly 8,000 hotels rooms.
In Dallas, the Wyndham Anatole has completed its West Wing renovation, bringing the hotel's total meeting space to more than 340,000 square feet. It is a significant part of the hotel's $39 million renvoation, which began in 2002. Five redesigned meeting spaces include the new 7,482-square-foot Coronado Ballroom, which can seat 765 people theater-style and is divisible by four. The Cortez Ballroom seats 675; the DeSoto Room seats 240 people and can be divided into two; the De La Salle Room seats 145; and the Peacock Terrace, at 4,293 square feet, seats 220. The West Wing features Category 5 ports with a fiber-optic backbone; all public and meeting areas have both high-speed wired and wireless Internet access. All 1,616 guest rooms are now being renovated.
The opening of the new $122 million Greater Tacoma (Wash.) Convention & Trade Center is slated for November. It will have 76,000 square feet of meeting space; a 51,500-square-foot main exhibit hall; a 13,650-square-foot ballroom; 11,200 square feet of meeting space/breakout rooms; and pre-function areas with views of Mount Rainier and Commencement Bay. A Courtyard by Marriott with 152 guest rooms and 7,000 square feet of meeting space is under construction directly across the street.
When the Puerto Rico Convention Center opens late next year in San Juan, it will be the largest, most technologically advanced convention center in the Caribbean. At 580,000 square feet, it will house a 152,700-square-foot exhibition hall, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and 36,200 square feet of meeting space divisible into as many as 25 rooms.
The Vancouver (B.C.) Convention and Exhibition Centre is slated to begin an expansion later this year, with completion by 2008. The VCEC will house the media center for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Vancouver and Whistler. Both the Canadian federal government and the B.C. provincial government have increased their contribution to the expansion, bringing the total for the project to $406 million.