by Sarah J.F. Braley | July 17, 2014
The Massachusetts Senate has approved a funding bill for the $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, a measure that was approved by the state's House of Representatives in May. 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. “Today marks an exciting and important milestone in what has been a five-year effort to expand the BCEC and bring more major events, economic impact and jobs to Boston,” said James E. Rooney, executive director of the MCCA. Several hotel companies are in competition to build a 1,000-room headquarters hotel on two Massachusetts Port Authority-owned tracts near the BCEC; a developer is expected to be chosen by the end of this year. Ground was broken last December for a 330-room Aloft Hotel and a 180-room extended-stay Element Hotel going up directly across from the facility.