Like everything else, the world of convention centers has been challenged by the economic downturn. Yet, while many plans to build, expand or renovate facilities have been shelved or postponed, a number of projects have stayed firmly on course. Following is a sampling of ambitious new projects and expansion plans in the works.
Nashville Music City Center Opening: 2013
At the start of this year, Nashville's planned $585 million Music City Center received financing approval from the city's Metro Council. "This takes the city to a new level of competitiveness," says Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. Indeed, at the time of the approval, 26 advance bookings, translating to more than 280,000 room nights, already were scheduled for the facility.
Groundbreaking for the center took place in March; once completed in 2013, the 1.2 million-square-foot facility will more than double the amount of meeting and exhibit space available in the city's downtown district. Among project highlights are a 350,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can double as a concert hall, more than 50 meeting rooms, two ballrooms, 36 loading docks and a sustainable green roof.
Pennsylvania Convention Center Philadelphia
Expanding: March 2011
Mega-groups, rejoice: A $777 million expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, increasing meeting and exhibit space by more than 60 percent, is set to debut in March 2011. Once completed, the entire facility will offer one million square feet of bookable space. Developers also claim the enlarged center will have the largest amount of contiguous exhibit space in the Northeast region, at 541,000 square feet, and the largest convention center ballroom on the East Coast, which will span about 60,000 square feet. Approximately 154,000 square feet of meeting space within 73 meeting rooms also will be available.