Pittsburgh has wanted to host RCMA for more than 10 years. The wait is nearly over. In 2004, for the first time, RCMA brings its World Conference and Exposition to Pittsburgh, the shimmering, historic western Pennsylvania city at the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers. It's a city of commerce, manufacturing, art, and science — a bustling, forward-looking city that is anxious to host RCMA from January 27 to 30, 2004.
Joe McGrath, president and CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh CVB, confirms that attracting RCMA has been a top priority for quite some time.
“I'm thrilled. I've been in Pittsburgh more than a decade and have been pursuing this meeting since I arrived,” he says.
McGrath feels that hosting RCMA is Pittsburgh's most significant opportunity to match the city's strength as a destination with the needs of a targeted meeting audience. He believes Pittsburgh is a good fit for, and planners apparently agree: Pittsburgh counts 376 religious meetings in the city since 1990, including many large, national religious conventions.
“We've wanted to do this [RCMA] for a long time, and now with our new David L. Lawrence Convention Center, we have the perfect facility to host this group,” McGrath says. “And it's a wonderful opportunity to expose all the New Pittsburgh has to offer. Attendees will be surprised and pleased by the city's renaissance.”
Attendees can expect a compact, friendly, and safe environment, he says. The convention center is downtown, within walking distance of hotels, restaurants, shopping, and a thriving cultural and entertainment district, as well as several religious institutions.
“No matter what their age or interests, attendees will find enjoyable experiences here,” McGrath says. “And families will love the range of affordable activities.”
So, what's great about Pittsburgh? Here's a start:
The airport: Pittsburgh International Airport was ranked one of the top five airports in the country by Conde Nast Traveler.
The airport has also been ranked No. 1 by Travelocity.com for the shortest wait at security checkpoints and the shortest wait in check-in lines. The study showed that 100 percent of passengers surveyed passed through security checkpoints in 15 minutes or less, and 97 percent spent 30 minutes or less checking in at the ticket counter.
Not only is Pittsburgh International Airport one of the nation's finest, it is also easy to navigate.
For the past 10 years, Pittsburgh consistently has been ranked in Rand McNally's Top 10 Livable Cities.
Pittsburgh has been ranked seventh in the nation as the home of Fortune 500 headquarters. USX, ALCOA, Heinz, and PPG have homes here.
Entrepreneur magazine ranked Pittsburgh the ninth-best place in the country for small businesses.
The cost of living is among the lowest in the nation. Compared to other cities of similar size, housing costs in Pittsburgh are the lowest. The cost of a three-bedroom house in the Pittsburgh area is nearly 30 percent below the national average.
The locals say that for working and living, Pittsburgh can't be topped. Pittsburgh has ranked in the top 10 as the best place to raise a family, to own a home-based business, to start as a young professional, for working mothers, for relocation of families and businesses, and to grow personal wealth.
Pittsburgh universities are consistently featured in U.S. News & World Report as having some of the best programs nationwide. Pittsburgh is also known for its research.
According to U.S. News & World Report, both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University rank in the top 10 for their programs in information systems, engineering, medicine, education, business, metallurgy, and computer engineering.
A New Jewel
Located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, the new $354 million David L. Lawrence Convention Center is outstanding in form and function.
Aesthetically pleasing, spacious, and environmentally smart, the building is also supremely functional. The facility offers an on-site hotel, 330,000 square feet of exhibit space (250,000 square feet of which is column-free), 53 meeting rooms, and 37 loading docks. Given this spaciousness and accessibility, multiple conventions and trade shows are able to move in, operate, and move out on an overlapping schedule.
Beautifully integrated with the neighboring cultural and central business districts, everything a delegate could want or need lies within walking distance or a short subway ride of six major hotels and the convention center.
“Response to the new center has been terrific,” says McGrath, who adds that clients are impressed by the facility's size and its stunning, yet graceful architecture.
The convention center stands in the middle of Pittsburgh's safe, walkable downtown, which locals call the Golden Triangle. Pittsburgh's city center makes it easy to enjoy great performances, outstanding shopping, fine and casual dining, first-class accommodations, and the shortest, cleanest subway system in America. (Travel between the system's downtown stops is free.)
When New York architect Rafael Vinoly saw the Three Sisters, a triad of suspension bridges straddling the Allegheny River, he was inspired to imitate the heavenward slant of steel cables in his design for the newest addition to Pittsburgh's river front.
The convention center is striking, both for its suspended, sail-like roof and for Vinoly's vision for the inviting, beautiful, and functional building. Its design celebrates Pittsburgh's past, present, and future — the form pays homage to the city's early bridge designers, and the building's technology reflects modern innovation and focuses on the future urbanism of the city.
Chosen by a panel of jurors with experience in hospitality, planning, architecture, and economic development, the design is truly the result of civic unity. The city's arts community is also involved — working to bring sculptures, paintings, and other public art installations to the center.
Vinoly sees the convention center as a welcoming place where visitors can't help but feel comfortable and embraced, and a space that will triple Pittsburgh's capacity for meetings, conventions, and exhibitions.
Pittsburgh's accommodations are defined by grand spaces, cutting-edge capabilities, convenient locations, and comfortable surroundings.
In surrounding Allegheny County, nearly 14,000 rooms are ready to welcome attendees, with none more than 35 minutes from downtown.
Downtown itself has seven major properties. In addition, Pittsburgh's regional destinations make for great religious retreats, getaways, and meetings in countryside settings.
The city's airport corridor contains nearly 2,000 rooms and facilities that can host meetings within minutes of the airport. And the area's ExpoMart region contains more than 800 rooms supporting Allegheny County's second-largest convention facility.
Two new state-of-the-art sports stadiums were completed on Pittsburgh's North Shore in 2001.
PNC Park is the new home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This absolutely spectacular, retro-style, 38,000-seat baseball park features a center field that opens to a dramatic view of the city skyline.
A short distance along the river front is Heinz Field, where the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers play in a $211 million, 65,000-seat stadium.
Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey games take to the ice downtown at Mellon Arena.
And it's not just a city for sports spectators. Pittsburgh is close to the great outdoors and great for camping enthusiasts, hikers, bikers, river rafters, golfers, and, with three rivers to choose from, boating.
And Much More
Like all fine cities, Pittsburgh also offers wonderful dining, shopping, museums, and siteseeing. All of these assets will be on display when RCMA makes its maiden voyage to the city of three rivers in January.
PITTSBURGH At a glance
City Population: 350,363
Allegheny County Population: 1,336,449
Area: 55.5 square miles
Elevation: 1,223 feet
Location: Within 500 miles of more than half the U.S. population, and less than 90 minutes flying time from 20 states and Canada.
Average High Temperature (July): 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Average Low Temperature. (January): 20.8 degrees Fahrenheit
Port: Pittsburgh is the nation's largest inland port, providing access to the 9,000-mile U.S. inland waterway system.
Bridges: Allegheny County has more than 1,700 bridges, 720 within city limits, and 15 major bridges crossing downtown Pittsburgh alone.
Media: Two major newspapers, 32 radio stations, and five major television stations
Colleges and Universities: 29 colleges and universities make their home in southwestern Pennsylvania, including Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Duquesne University.
Sports: Pittsburgh fans cheer for three major league sports teams: the Penguins, the Pirates, and the Steelers.
Tourism: 3.9 million people visit Pittsburgh annually.