by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 29, 2014
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a funding bill for the $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The Massachusetts Senate is expected to vote on the bill this summer, according to the Boston Globe, and work on the project could begin within the next 18 months. The 1.3 million-square-foot expansion would include additions to the exhibit and meeting space, and a second, larger ballroom. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority says some funding for the work would come from the existing Convention Center Fund, which was created in 1997 to pay for the construction and operations of the BCEC. The fund's revenues consist of existing tourism-based fees and taxes, none of which would need to be increased to fund the expansion project, which would increase the size of the facility by 60 percent. "We are pleased by the steady progress of our BCEC expansion legislation at the State House," said James E. Rooney, executive director of the MCCA in a statement. "Successful passage of this legislation will result in an incredible opportunity to grow Massachusetts' share of the meetings and conventions industry, and increase our economic return for the Commonwealth in a major way, including the creation of thousands of construction and permanent jobs. I am thankful to the House for a thorough and productive dialog throughout the legislative process, and look forward to continuing the conversation with the Senate in the near future." Several hotel companies are in competition to build a 1,000-room headquarters hotel next to the center on two Massachusetts Port Authority-owned tracts near the BCEC. Ground was broken last December for a 330-room Aloft Hotel and a 180-room extended-stay Element Hotel going up across from the facility.