by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 01, 2004

George R. Brown Convention Center

Business is up:
The George R. Brown center

From Spokane, Wash., to Daytona, Fla., convention centers are expanding. And, according to the sales teams peddling the spaces, there is plenty of interest for the finished products.
    In Denver, 262,000 square feet of new exhibit space and 60,000 square feet of new meeting rooms will double the size of the Colorado Convention Center in December, and sales for 2005 are 3 to 5 percent ahead of the usual pace.
    “We’re seeing pent-up demand from people who haven’t been to the city,” said Roy Benear, vice president of convention sales for the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Outside of ’05, we’re doubling the business we would have been doing in the center.”
    In Phoenix, where the Civic Plaza will offer about 900,000 square feet of space when work finishes in 2009, tentatives on the books are jumping, said Scott White, vice president of sales and marketing for the Greater Phoenix CVB. Opening adjacent to Civic Plaza will be a 1,000-room Sheraton.
    Don’t count your conventions too quickly, though, cautioned Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston CVB, where business is just picking up at the George R. Brown Convention Center following an expansion that opened in December 2003. “Meeting planners have to see the expansion and feel it and touch it,” Tollett noted.
    According to John Keeling, senior vice president of PKF Consulting in Houston, expansion appeal depends largely on city appeal. “The Colorado center is on the edge of downtown; there’s a lot going on there,” he said. “But Phoenix is all about resorts.”