Boston – Grand opening ceremonies were held yesterday for the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center which opened on time and within budget. Governor Mitt Romney, and Mayor Tom Menino, long credited as the driving force behind the creation of the center, officiated at ceremonies attended by other elected officials, business leaders, convention industry guests and the press.
The new state-of-the-art center offers 516,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space on the main level and has been called an “architectural masterpiece.” Dramatic glassed-in skybridges span the exhibit floor. A 41,000 sq. ft. ballroom overlooks Boston Harbor, offering striking views of the city’s waterfront and skyline. The third floor of the center features 82 breakout rooms with 160,000 square feet of meeting space. High-tech amenities include wireless Internet access throughout the center, interruption-free cellular coverage and state-of the art audio-visual capabilities.
Milt Herbert, Executive Director of the Boston Convention Marketing Center, says the key point about the facility is its flexibility. “We are capable of housing nearly every show in the country,” he says, and also pointed out that adjacent land is available for future expansion needs.
Festivities Interrupted by Three Blue Men with Light Sticks and Bazookas
Jim Rooney, MCCA’s Executive Director, was five minutes into his presentation when interrupted by The Blue Man Group, sometimes called “The Intel Guys” or “Those Bald, Blue Men with No Ears.” Carrying bazookas and red light sticks from Boston’s Logan Airport, the Blue trio escorted Rooney to his seat, gestured for him to sit down, then stand up, then sit down, then clap his hands. Accustomed to jumping through hoops for his clients, Rooney obliged, all the while thinking he would eventually get a contract from them for dates in the low season. Then the Blue guys turned to the audience who also clapped their hands on cue like sea lions from the New England Aquarium. The charade ended when the blue men fired a flurry of metallic streamers into the audience and escaped among the excitement.
Whether the Blue Man Group will ever come back to sign that contract is debatable. However, the BCEC currently has 48 definite events, 10 contracts pending and 88 tentative events scheduled through 2010. Among those are MacWorld, Microsoft Tech Ed and Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Other news was the June 4th groundbreaking for the new $200 million Westin Hotel, adjacent to BCEC. Mayor Menino calls the hotel and convention center “cornerstones of the South Boston waterfront” that will anchor the city’s tourism business and establish the area as a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood. The hotel will be constructed in two phases. Phase I will include 790 guest rooms, 32,000 square feet of meeting space and a 15,000 square foot ballroom. The hotel is expected to open in 2006.
The Fate of the Hynes Convention Center
Now that the BCEC is up and running, what’s in the cards for the Hynes Convention Center? Rooney says the Hynes, along with the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, is a solid part of the business mix offered to trade shows and meetings. “Hynes is booked solidly for the next three years so any discussion about the future of the Hynes Convention Center will be made way down the road.”