Study Gives Go Ahead for 50% Expansion to Morial Convention Center in New Orleans

RENEE DIIULIO, SENIOR EDITOR
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New Orleans – Research conducted for the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center of New Orleans concluded  that the facility should continue with plans to expand. The  convention market research study updates a 2000 study and took into account the changes that have taken place since then including  9-11 and the economic downturn. The expansion would add 524,000 square feet of exhibition space to the facility’s current 1.1 million square feet.

Financing has been in place since 2001, says Jimmie Fore, General Manager, but construction was delayed by issues surrounding litigation over the contracts, now undergoing an appeal. Fore expects groundbreaking to occur in Summer 2005; the expansion is scheduled for completion in three years. Occupancy is expected in 2008 or 2009.

The recent study, completed by consulting firm Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, Inc. (CSL), evaluated the impact of industry changes and growth in national convention space as well as the  demand for convention and trade show space in New Orleans. The center’s occupancy level is on an upward trend and is currently at 57%. Surveys of meeting planners found that 56% of planners requiring between 100,000 to 250,000 square feet of exhibit space would “definitely” or “likely” host an event in New Orleans; 55% of planners requiring over 250,000 square feet of exhibit space would also “definitely” or “likely” host an event in New Orleans.

Reach Jimmie Fore, General Manager, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, at (504) 582-3000 or jfore@mccno.com.