Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: November/December 2012
Convention Center Review
By: Solomon J. Herbert
Choosing the right convention center for your meeting or conference is no simple task. It not only requires that you select a facility that is easily accessible and within close proximity to nearby hotels and resorts, but one that also can accommodate the needs of your delegates with top-of-the-line meeting space, amenities, service and support.

Gone are the days when meeting planners will settle for a cavernous box that offers none of the conveniences and comfort found in hotel function space. Today’s sophisticated professionals demand centers that provide the highest in quality – from architectural beauty and gourmet cuisine, to the latest in audio, communications and graphics technology.

When planning your next meeting please consider one of the following convention centers as options for your event. By investing in the African-American market they acknowledge the value that Black meeting planners and their associations bring to the table, and deserve your business.

The Austin Convention Center is a LEED® Gold certified building located in the heart of the capital of Texas, one of the most affordable cities in America. The convention center has a convenient downtown location, between the shores of Lady Bird Lake and historic Sixth Street. It has easy access to I-35 and is a short distance from 6,000 downtown hotel rooms. The facility’s expansion has allowed events to expand their conventions, trade shows and expos. It has also brought new conventions and visitors to Austin and its convention center.

The Center features 881,400 gross sq. ft. and covers six city blocks. The five contiguous Exhibit Halls have 246,097 sq. ft. of column-free space, 54 meeting rooms and show offices with 58,152 sq. ft., and seven ballrooms, including one with 43,300 sq. ft. Pre-wired during construction, the Center is a gigabit rated building. It is one of the most technologically advanced convention centers in the country, with state-of-the-art communication and utility services. Two close by garages provide 1,685 parking spaces for visitors.

Aramark, the Center’s food and beverage management division, is an exclusive service offering premier food and beverage preparation. The Center also boasts of two fully-equipped kitchens.


Total Exhibit Space: 246,097 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 79,525 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 43,300 sq. ft
Number of Meeting Rooms: 54
Telephone: (512) 404-4500

In the heart of thriving, fun-filled Birmingham is the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Here you will find everything you need for whatever your event requires: an array of top-notch facilities, 757 adjoining guest rooms, a helpful event staff and a host of specialized services. An impressive 220,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space is just the beginning. One of the most compelling features of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex is that it has all the right components in one complex.

The centrally located, modern facility also includes 100,000 sq. ft. in 74 meeting rooms, and The Medical Forum, a conference facility unlike any other in the country that's equipped with state-of-the-art communications technology.

Also you will find a 18,000-seat arena, a 2,800-seat Concert Hall, a 1,000-seat theater, 757 adjoining modern guest rooms at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, complete in-house catering service as well as on-site covered and valet parking. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is conveniently located 10 minutes from the Birmingham International Airport and at the apex of several major interstates, making it super-accessible by car, bus or plane.

Total Exhibit Space: 220,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 110,000 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 15,522
Number of Meeting Rooms: 74
Telephone: (205) THE-BJCC

The Chattanooga Convention Center continues to serve the convention industry with superior service and amenities. Chattanooga, located in the southeast corner of Tennessee, is within a day's drive of over half the population of the United States.

From the open, contemporary layout of the pre-function areas to the expansive exhibition, meeting and banquet spaces, the Chattanooga Convention Center represents a refreshing environment for any convention, meeting or event. The expanded Chattanooga Convention Center represents nothing short of a revolution in exhibition space design. Unlike traditional meeting space (with dark ceilings that beg to be ignored), the Convention Center's sophisticated lighting technology allows natural sunlight directly into the spacious exhibition area. The result: bright, evenly distributed lighting that's not only more visually pleasing, but also brings with it all of the psychological benefits of working in pure, natural sunlight.

The Center's new design features an enhanced lighting system that uses sunlight filtered through openings in the 30-ft. ceilings as a primary light source. Special sensors monitor the brightness of direct and diffused sunlight entering the building and adjust indoor lights to accommodate for the changes. The more natural light there is entering the building, the less artificial light used.

Then, there is the space itself – a total of 312,000 sq. ft., which includes 100,000 sq. ft. of clear span exhibit space, 21 meeting rooms and six ballrooms – all with state-of-the-art connectivity. Removable walls complete the package, allowing exhibition and meeting spaces to be configured to your specifications.

Total Exhibit Space: 312,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 100,800 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 18,360 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 21
Telephone: (800) 962-5213

The Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) is Georgia’s newest and second largest convention center. Located adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and just 10 minutes from downtown Atlanta, the GICC offers 400,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space to accommodate every need. The 150,000-sq. ft. Exhibit Hall is divisible into four separate halls and can fit over 800 10’x10’ booths. Best of all, the GICC boasts Georgia’s largest ballroom — 40,000 sq. ft. — with room enough to seat over 3,000 guests.

In Fall 2009, the GICC became one of the first facilities in the country where event and convention goers were able to fly into an airport, disembark their plane and arrive at the front door of the facility, all without ever getting in a taxi, bus or shuttle. The ATL SkyTrain, a new light rail train project, transports travelers from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the airport’s new Consolidated Rental Car Agency Complex (CONRAC). The 1.4 million sq. ft. CONRAC is the centralized car rental headquarters for Hartsfield-Jackson. The great news for GICC patrons is that the second station of the APM is at the front door of the GICC, making it even easier to access the impressive facility.

To further add to the amenities of the GICC, The 147-room SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway, headed off a major expansion taking place at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2010. The Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway also opened in 2010, complete with 403 rooms and more than 300,000 sq. ft. of event space. Both properties are adjacent to the Georgia International Convention Center and utilize an automated people mover connected to the airport.

Everything about the facility is both beautiful and state of the art. Whether dining on a 4-star meal prepared by the GICC’s world-class culinary team or touring the GICC’s $1 million+ art collection, the GICC offers only the best to its clients.

Total Exhibit Space: 150,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 150,000 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 40, 000 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 35
Telephone: (770) 997-3566


The Greensboro Coliseum Complex is a multi-building facility designed to serve the citizens of Greensboro and the surrounding area through a broad range of activities, including athletic events, cultural arts, concerts, theater, educational activities, fairs, exhibits, and public and private events of all kinds including conventions, convocations and trade and consumer shows. It is both a primary center of activity for the community and a leading economic generator for this region.

The Greensboro Coliseum Complex consists of 23,500-seat Greensboro Coliseum (the largest single-seat arena in the nation), 2,400-seat War Memorial Auditorium, 300-seat Odeon Theatre, the 167,000-sq. ft. Special Events Center that includes three exhibition halls, a 4,500-seat mini-arena and eight meeting rooms, and the 30,000- sq. ft. Pavilion, located adjacent to the Special Events Center.

The Complex expanded dynamically in 2011 with the addition of four new, unique venues that attracted thousands of visitors and brought millions of dollars in economic impact to the Greensboro community. The venues include the 8,100-sq. ft. ACC Hall of Champions Museum, 78,323-sq. ft. Greensboro Aquatic Center, 7,600-seat outdoor White Oak Amphitheatre, and The Terrace, a 12,900-sq. ft. banquet facility.

Total Exhibit Space: 150,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 80,000 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 30, 000 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 14
Telephone: (336) 373-7400

The eight-square-block Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities can accommodate every need with 388,800 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space on one floor, 48 state-of-the-art meeting rooms, a 2,400-seat fine arts theater, an arena that seats more than 10,700 people and two unique outdoor reception, festival and activity areas. The complex is connected to major downtown hotels and underground parking by glass-enclosed skywalks and below-ground walkways.

With 388,800 sq. ft. of contiguous, column-free space, Bartle Hall’s main exhibition hall covers an area the size of eight football fields. This allows for more than 2,000 10-by-10 ft. booths, and enough room to create eye-catching pavilions or huge equipment displays without having to squeeze them between columns.

The facility’s meeting space is no less impressive. The new 40,500-sq. ft. Grand Ballroom is expandable to 46,400 sq. ft. for events up to 4,000 people, while the Junior Ballroom/Great Hall boasts 23,910 sq. ft., 28-ft. ceilings and is divisible into eight breakout rooms. Twenty-six meeting rooms offering 61,816 sq. ft. of function space, as well as a two-level conference center round out the facility’s amenities.

The complex’s Municipal Auditorium offers an Arena with 7,316 permanent seats, 2,405 sears on risers, plus capacity for 1,000 theater-style on the main floor; a 46,000-sq. ft. Exhibition Hall; a 2,363-seat Music Hall; and a 400-seat Little Theatre.

Total Exhibit Space: 434,800 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 388,800 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 46,400 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 26
Telephone: (816) 513-5001

The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, located in the heart of downtown, hosts over 700 event days and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually for conventions, trade shows, concerts, theater, and sporting events.

This SMG-managed, state-of-the-art facility includes three dynamic, multi-purpose Exhibition Halls as well as unique entertainment venues at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center which includes the Terrace and Center Theaters, and the Long Beach Arena. The Terrace Theater is a full-production 3,051-seat theater featuring world-class concert performances and Broadway shows, while the Center Theater, (825 capacity), provides a more intimate setting.

With 34 Meeting Rooms and a Grand Ballroom, three dynamic Exhibition Halls, Long Beach Arena and the Terrace Theater, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is ideal for all types of special events, conventions and tradeshows, and is within walking distance to everything.

Total Exhibit Space: 400,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 224,000 sq. ft.
Largest Ballroom: 20,456 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 34
Telephone: (562) 436-3636

The World-Class Los Angeles Convention Center is one of the most efficiently designed and technologically advanced convention and exhibition facilities in the world. Its trademark glass and steel pavilions, which house the exhibition halls, towers and lobbies are conveniently linked by a meeting room concourse forming a grand unified center. With a total of 720,000 sq. ft. of exhibition and 147,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space, the Los Angeles Convention Center provides a preeminent setting for any event. The Los Angeles Convention Center is convenient to major points throughout the City.

The Convention Center comprises a 347,000-sq. ft. South Exhibit Hall, connected to the 210,000-sq. ft. West exhibit Hall by a two-story meeting room concourse bridging over Pico Boulevard. Kentia Hall located beneath the South Exhibit Hall can be converted into a parking area for 415 vehicles.

With 64 meeting rooms and a 299-seat presentation theater, the center boasts an array of amenities, including sun-filled spacious lobbies with artworks by nationally recognized artists, three food courts, a full-service Business Center, on-site parking for 5,600 vehicles, advanced fiber optics, power and data/network systems, the Marriott/Ritz convention center hotel, and nearby sports and entertainment venues including LA Live and Staples Center.

Total Exhibit Space: 720,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 347,000 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 64
Telephone: (800) 448-7775

The first of its kind in the English speaking Caribbean and second in the region, Jamaica now boasts an additional state-of-the-art centre for meetings and events, the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding officially opened the venue on January 7, 2011, where it seeks to house its capacity of thousands in exquisitely furnished rooms, ranging from 15,000- 56,000 sq. ft. The Centre is located in the heart of Jamaica’s second capital, Montego Bay, and is only a 15-minute drive from the Sangster International Airport. It is also centrally located near Montego Bay's world class resorts such as the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon, Hilton Rose Hall and Iberostar Resort. A variety of amenities and attractions are just a short distance from the Centre, providing visitors with the true Jamaican experience. Shopping, golf, spas and attractions are all within a 5-minute drive of the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

The facility’s exhibition space, which measures 52,213 sq. ft., is divisible into two halls, accommodating 4,000 persons theater-style. Function space can be configured into nine meeting rooms, the largest of which can comfortably handle up to 700 persons, while a 20,925-sq. ft. banquet hall, which can be divided into three sections, boasts a total capacity of 2,000 attendees.


Total Exhibit Space: 52,213 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 52,213 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 9
Telephone: (800) 294-7687

The Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) is one of the most distinctive and easily accessible meeting facilities in the world, combining historic preservation, architectural innovation and state-of-the-art technology. Five years in the making, the PCCA recently underwent a $786 million expansion across 20 acres of central Philadelphia real estate, bringing the facility up to a staggering 2.3 million sq. ft. It's the largest single public works project in Pennsylvania history.

With over one million sq. ft. of sellable space, the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center features 528,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space, seven exhibit halls totaling 679,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, a 32,000-sq. ft. ballroom and a new 55,400-sq. ft. ballroom — the largest on the East Coast and able to accommodate up to 6,000 delegates at one time, a 34,960-sq. ft. Grand Hall, an additional multi-story, floor-to-ceiling glass entrance on North Broad Street, and 79 total meeting rooms.

With the new expansion — the size of two full city blocks — PCC has increased its size by nearly 60 percent, allowing the center to hold up to two major events and multiple smaller meetings at the same time. It’s also ranked as one of the top 10 largest convention centers in the country.

Additional features include an elevated second-level loading dock which allows tractor-trailers to drive straight off the city streets onto the exhibit floor level., 45 loading docks, certification as an environmentally-friendly LEED building, and 3,936 hotel rooms within a four-minute walk from the Center.

From its opening in 1993, the Pennsylvania Convention Center has reinvigorated the surrounding district and the city itself, and has been responsible for the addition of more than 50,000 jobs in the hospitality industry. And so many visitors come through its doors that it accounts for almost 50 percent of all hotel rooms in Center City.

Located at the heart of the city, both geographically and culturally, the PCC is within close proximity to famed landmarks, including Independence Hall and America’s most historic square mile, Chinatown and the Stunning Friendship Gate, and lovely Rittenhouse Square. And it sits right above the Reading Terminal Market, which offers a vast choice of mouthwatering regional and international food.

Total Exhibit Space: 679,000 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 528,000 sq. ft.
Number of Meeting Rooms: 79
Telephone: (800) 428-9000

Virginia Beach is a meeting locale that rivals any on the East Coast. With more hotels, entertainment, shopping and dining options than ever, it’s the ideal place to bring people together year-round. You’ll find the perfect balance of coastal charm and big-city amenities. There’s a Virginia Beach vibe that’s right for your event. At the center of it all is the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the Nation's first convention center to earn LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It can hold any size meeting imaginable, with over 525,125 gross sq. ft., over 150,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space, nearly 29,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, over 31,000 sq. ft. ballroom (one of the largest on the east coast), 22 contiguous loading docks located on-grade adjacent to the exhibit hall and ballroom, and 2,209 free parking spaces.

The center features four 37,503-sq. ft. exhibit halls that can be used separately or in any combination up to 150,012 sq. ft.. Combined the hall can house 880 10’x10’ booths, or seat 9,400 for banquets. The facility’s 31,029-sq. ft. ballroom is divisible into three different areas, the largest of which is 10,472 sq. ft., able to accommodate 580 for banquets and 600 classroom-style.

A 360-ft. Video Wall along pre-function space creates an energetic entry experience and unrivaled opportunity to communicate with attendees, while a Concierge and Business Center are open daily to provide retail needs and services to facility guests.

Total Exhibit Space: 150,012 sq. ft.
Largest Hall: 150,012 sq. ft.
Telephone: (757) 385-2161

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