New Orleans Begins the Year on a Super Note

TSE STAFF

New Orleans, LA – The year has started with a bang for New Orleans, with Super Bowl XLVII allowing the city to showcase its many venues, including the newly-renovated New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

The convention center completed a 24-month, $52 million renovation of the former Hall A and La Louisiane Ballroom. The new 60,300 square foot, column-free ballroom is now called The Great Hall, a reminder that the convention center was first used as The Great Hall of the 1984 World’s Fair. The convention center renovation also includes a new entrance, 25,000 square feet of pre-function space and a 4,660 square foot junior ballroom with a rooftop terrace.

“In the past, a competitive disadvantage for New Orleans was not having a large column-free ballroom,” said Bob Johnson, president and GM of the convention center. “With the new Great Hall, we have addressed that concern. We also enhanced the overall visitor experience by adding a redesigned main entrance that provides a true sense of arrival at the front door.”

Other features of The Great Hall include:

  •  Finishes similar to those found in hotel ballrooms, including milled carpet, wall coverings and décor reflective of New Orleans;
  •  Advanced sound, lighting and technology capabilities, including an energy-efficient LED lighting; system that offers nearly unlimited color combinations;
  • An unusual layered ceiling concept;
  • The ability to transition from an intimate setting to a more open room environment; and
  • Exhibit hall standards, including utility floor boxes, rigging points and easy access.

 

“Because this was a conversion from exhibit space, one of The Great Hall’s unique advantages is that it retained all of the important features of an exhibit hall, such as floor utility boxes and heavier rigging points, but with the feel of a hotel ballroom,” said Tim Hemphill, VP sales and marketing at the convention center. “The Great Hall remains contiguous and can open up to all of the other halls, which makes the space even more functional for show managers and meeting planners.”

The ballroom and entryway renovations follow $93 million in improvements made to the 27-year-old facility over the past five years. These include a complete makeover of the interior lobbies, a repainted exterior, new lobby furniture, digital signage, key card entry at meeting rooms and a fully redundant Internet backbone.

The entire convention center boasts 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, and is tied for sixth place with the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, according to rankings by size in the Trade Show Executive World’s Top Convention Centers directory. The convention center also offers 140 meeting rooms and a 4,000-seat auditorium.

The NFL Shop for Super Bowl XLVII, which opened immediately following The Great Hall’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony, was the first official use of the new space.

THE HYATT REGENCY

The renovated Hyatt Regency New Orleans served as headquarters hotel for the Super Bowl. The hotel offers 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space, including the 50,000 square foot Elite Hall, two 25,000 square foot ballrooms and 70 meeting rooms.

SPECIAL EVENT VENUES

Two of the newer special event venues in New Orleans include:

  • The recently opened NOLA Motorsports Park, which has space available for meetings and events, as well as go kart, motorcycle and race car driving experiences; and
  • The National World War II Museum with its brand new U.S. Freedom Pavilion that honors those who fought in World War II.

AIRPORT MODERNIZATION

Someone once advised starting with the airport to improve the perception of a city. Modernization projects totaling $300 million are underway at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. These include construction of a new rental car facility, a new security and communications center, new signage and an expansion of the ticketing lobby.

Reach Bob Johnson at (504) 582-3000; Tim Hemphill at (504) 582-3039 or themphill@mccno.com;  Keith Levey at (504) 582-3023 or klevey@mccno.com