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LVCVA Unveils Long-Range Plans for Convention Center, Global Business District

TSE STAFF

Las Vegas NV —The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) yesterday unveiled a blueprint for the future with plans for a convention center remodel and expansion as part of a larger and more cohesive Las Vegas Global Business District campus.

Overall plans green-lighted by the board of directors are expected to also include an international business center designed to expand the World Trade Center designation achieved in 2011 in an agreement between LVCVA and the Consumer Electronics Association, which stages one of the largest events at the convention center. A third element is a central transportation hub that will ease travel in and around the convention center district.

Key developments for the convention center will include additional exhibit space, meeting rooms and general session space as well as technology upgrades, new food and beverage outlets, and a grand concourse connecting to additional lobby space. Outdoor public gathering spaces and other campus design elements will create a campus environment.

The last expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center was the addition of the South Hall, which was completed in 2000. This plan is said to be larger in scope than the $890 million renovation and expansion proposal that was put on hold in 2009 when the economic recession affected convention business in the city.

The first phase of the Global Business District — expected to be complete by the end of 2014 — includes financing, RFQs for design and project management, improvements to current space, and consideration of additional land for future expansion.

“Our challenge has always been and continues to be finding enough space for indoor exhibits while still having enough for outdoor as well,” Megan Tanel told Trade Show Executive. She is vice president of exhibitions and events for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which stages the triennial CONEXPO-Con/AGG show in Las Vegas. Tanel said the show is on track to use more than 2.5 million net square feet of space next year. “(That) has us already challenged in finding the footprint within the existing convention center space,” she said.

The World Trade Center expansion also will be welcomed by trade shows and conventions that draw heavily from international audiences. The annual International CES show in January drew 150,000 attendees — including 35,000 international attendees from 170 countries.

“The planned expansion of the World Trade Center is consistent with the importance of international attendees to the International CES and other major shows,” Karen Chupka told Trade Show Executive. Chupka, who is senior vice president of events and conferences for the Consumer Electronics Association, and the cover feature for the May issue of Trade Show Executive, said CES used 1.9 million net square feet of exhibit space to accommodate 3,250 exhibitors.

Last year, 4.9 million visitors to Las Vegas came for meetings and conventions, up 1.6% from 2011 and the highest level of attendees in four years, according to LVCVA statistics.

The LVCVA said this plan will help position the city to achieve its goal of increasing market share of meetings and convention business from 12% to16%.

The city is already the No. 1 destination among the shows ranked by Trade Show Executive in both its annual Gold 100  list of the largest trade shows and the Fastest 50 class of the fastest-growing trade shows.  Las Vegas captured a 33% market share in 2012 with 33 shows in the Gold 100, a commanding lead over second-place Orlando with 14 shows.

In the 2012 Trade Show Executive Fastest 50 ranking, Las Vegas hosted 19 shows — a 21% market share — far ahead of the No. 2-ranked destinations of Chicago, New York and Orlando, all tied with five unique shows each or a 6% market share.

Though the overall plan is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete, the expansion and renovations are likely to be welcomed by trade show organizers.

“It’s a win-win for us and the city when the destination is an added benefit for event delegates,” Tanel said.

Reach Megan Tanel at (414) 298-4177 or mtanel@aem.org; Karen Chupka at (703) 907-7639 or kchupka@ce.org