by Terence Baker and Bryan Darrow | July 01, 2006

Get used to the sound of jackhammers. A number of cities across North America have cast aside any concerns about overbuilding and are investing many millions of dollars in renovating and expanding their convention facilities. The following is a state-by-state rundown of recent activity.


Anchorage broke ground on an expansion of the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center (907-263-2800; this April. When work is finished around spring 2009, the $103 million facility will offer meeting space for groups of up to 5,000 people. New features will include canopies, better lighting, protected vestibule entrances and heated sidewalks lined with trees. The sidewalks will link the expanded facility to the Alaska Performing Arts Center.


The Phoenix Civic Plaza has been renamed the Phoenix Convention Center (800-282-4842; A $600 million project, to finish in 2009, will increase exhibit space at the center from 302,000 square feet to 872,000. The new West Conference Center, with 156,000 square feet of exhibit space, including a 62,000-square-foot exhibition hall and 32 meeting rooms, opens this month. The rest of the project involves demolishing the current North Building and replacing it with a four-story facility.


The Pasadena Conference Center (626-793-2122; is gearing up for the first phase of an expansion that will include the implosion of Mishima Plaza to make way for a new 60,000-square-foot ballroom. A second phase adds a 160,768-square-foot exhib-it hall, while the final phase will renovate an existing conference center. Also in the works is a restoration of the Civic Auditorium lobby and transformation of the ice rink into another ballroom.

Halfway up the coast, the Santa Clara Convention Center (408-748-7000; has spent $100,000 to add a new dividing wall to its 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The center also will expand its exhibit space by 24,000 square feet by June 2008.


A $63 million expansion of Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center Convention & Entertainment Complex (800-858-6444; is in blueprints. Work started this April, but construction is likely to be delayed due to various issues concerning the bidding process. The city remains confident the enlarged facility will debut in 2007. Plans call for exhibit space to be doubled to approximately 100,000 square feet, while meeting rooms will number 22. The existing facility has a 46,000-square-foot arena for sports and concerts, while across the road on the beach is the affiliated, expanded Ocean Walk Village, with 1,300 guest rooms and 200,000 square feet of meeting space.

In West Palm Beach, the $84 million, 350,000-square-foot Palm Beach County Convention Center (800-833-5733; opened in January 2004. The facility has 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 25,000-square-foot ballroom and 23,000 square feet of meeting space. Coming soon: Westin will manage a 400-room headquarters property, to open in early 2008 with a spa and a ballroom of its own.