Not many cities are
able to carve out valuable waterfront property for their
convention centers. But the few facilities that sit along the water
offer groups a special aesthetic experience and planners the
opportunity to take advantage of the adjacent lakes, rivers or bays
to enhance their meetings.
While the centers’ locations can’t be
held entirely responsible for landing business (even the Bassmaster
Classic fishing tournament and Classic ESPN Outdoors Expo booked
the landlocked Charlotte Convention Center in 2004), facility
managers say the waterfront advantage can help tip the scales in
favor of their cities.
Here’s a look at several waterfront
centers and how they encourage groups to make the most of their
Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center,
The water: Mobile
The center: The Arthur
R. Outlaw Convention Center, which has a 100,000-square-foot
exhibit hall and a 15,000-square-foot ballroom.
Taking advantage: The
center has more than 25,000 square feet of outdoor terraces that
face the river. “Events have used the space in many different
ways,” says Renee Browning, director of sales. “For example, the
Gulf Coast Boat Show encourages attendees to watch their in-water
displays from the outdoor terraces. Another option: The National
Barbecue Association set up kitchens and cooked on the outdoor
Groups are encouraged to make use of
the Grampa Woo, a 115-foot yacht, which docks at the
center each year from November to May, between cruising the Mobile
River and the Gulf of Mexico.
Broward County Convention
Intracoastal Waterway, feeding directly into the Atlantic Ocean
The center: The
Broward County Convention Center, with 200,000 square feet of
exhibit space and 39 meeting rooms. Among the creative design
elements inside the facility is custom carpeting featuring imagery
of indigenous fish, scuba divers and other nautical elements.
Taking advantage: “The
views from the water are the very best way to experience Fort
Lauderdale,” says Francine Mason, vice president of communications
for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Those staying at several nearby hotels,
including the 457-room Sheraton Yankee Trader and the 367-room
Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, can travel to the
convention center by way of a water taxi (www.watertaxi.com/FortLauderdale). In front of the
center is a 1.3-acre plaza with a fountain and sailfish sculpture
that can be set up for an outdoor reception.
For a bird’s-eye view of the city’s
navigable inland waterways, groups can book The Pier Top, an event
space on the 17th floor of the nearby Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six