Meeting Professionals International's World Education Congress kicked off on Aug. 1 with a celebration in San Francisco's PIER 48 event venue, a warehouse space that overlooks the San Francisco Bay and nearby AT&T Park. The venue, which can host up to 7,000 guests, was decked out in circus-themed decor and filled with a variety of entertainers, from stilt walkers to acrobats to magicians.
During the conference, which is being held in the Moscone Center through Tuesday, John Reyes, executive vice president and chief sales officer of the San Francisco Travel Association, held a press conference to discuss the city's biggest upcoming projects:
- The Moscone Center's expansion continues to move forward and is expected to be complete in Fall 2018. The project will add some 175,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, terraces, lobbies and exhibition space. Once complete, the center's North and South buildings will offer more than 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space, almost double the amount currently offered in its largest hall.
- The Gotham Club, a new speakeasy-style club behind the scoreboard at AT&T Park, recently opened and is now available as an event space for up to 150 guests in its bar area and private dining room. A separate game room has space for up to 50 and offers bowling lanes, a pool table and classic arcade games.
- San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art is undergoing an expansion and will reopen next spring with more than 130,000 square feet of gallery space. Once complete, the venue will be triple its current size and will offer new outdoor terraces, classrooms, a restaurant and a performance space for live art.
- A central subway project is underway, scheduled to begin running in 2019. Four new stations will open throughout the city, including one at the Moscone Center.
Several San Francisco neighborhoods have formed alliances to offer planners space for "micro-citywides," essentially creating alternative host neighborhoods for groups to the city's popular downtown:
- The Nob Hill Connection is a partnership among five of the city's finest luxury hotels (the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins; Fairmont San Francisco; Stanford Court; Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, and the Scarlet Huntington) and the Masonic Center, which can fit up to 3,300 in its auditorium and 1,300 in its exhibit hall space. Together, the facilities can accommodate groups requesting more than 1,000 guest rooms, and they offer 100,000 square feet of meeting space. For more details, visit NobHillConnection.com.
- The SOMA One Connection includes the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and the Park Central San Francisco. The partnership accommodates groups requiring up to 1,500 guest rooms. Together, the three hotels have more than 155,000 square feet of function space, and the neighborhood offers a variety of off-site venues, including City View at the Metreon, which holds up to 1,200 guests. For a full list, visit somaoneconnection.com.