The expansion of America's Center Convention Complex in downtown St. Louis has received the necessary funding to move forward, which will allow the space to host much larger and more logistically complicated events. The AC Next Gen Project, as it's called, received approval from St. Louis Municipal Finance Corporation's board of directors and city leaders for $105 million in bonds.
The project will transform the layout of the current exhibition hall and add 92,000 square feet of exhibit space. This includes a 60,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting area with 20,000 square feet in prefunction event space, as well as 26 new loading docks and renovation of the existing 12 docks.
An outdoor pavilion will be added to serve convention attendees and improve the convention district's appearance, and refurbishments will be made to the central Washington Ave. entrance. Altogether, the project is expected to cost $175 million, funded by existing hotel and restaurant tax payments. In addition to the $105 million in bonds from the city, St. Louis County will contribute funds to the project.
"In a year when our St. Louis area hospitality industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision today by the City of St. Louis' Municipal Finance Corporation board to give hope for the future is an incredible gift.", said Kathleen Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis. "It means we can begin the work that will improve the America's Center Convention Complex to make it competitive for the business of the future."
City leaders emphasized that the expansion would make the city more attractive to major events once they return and help to drive increased tourism as well.
"The AC Next Gen Project perfectly positions St. Louis' front door for the future," said St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. "This, along with other developments including new hotels, upgrades to existing hotels, attractions, restaurants and the great advancements throughout our region, completes the convention package."