Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 30 2014

Is This Convention Center About To Get A Lot Bigger?

By David McMillin

As destinations continue to work to attract big business from meeting planners, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is getting closer to elevating Boston to another level. The MCCA is pushing for a $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and the state’s lawmakers are jumping onboard with support.

Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a bill that will authorize funding for the project with a vote of 130-19. While the bill still needs approval from Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Senate, all signs point to the ability to clear that final hurdle. Gov. Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray have already voiced their beliefs that the expansion will create serious economic benefits for the city and state.

SEE ALSO: How Convention Centers Spur Creativity And Engagement

In an interview with The Boston Globe, James Rooney, Executive Director, MCCA, highlighted the importance of the expansion for the city.

“This creates real economic activity,” Rooney said. “Our economy is grounded in knowledge-based industries, and the ability to host events and thought leaders from major international corporations in Boston is something a world-class city needs to be able to do.”

The MCCA did plenty of work in developing the proposal. The expansion campaign began in 2009 and included a 27-member group of local stakeholders and a year and a half of research and discussion.

A Sneak Preview Of The Plans

If approved, the BCEC expansion is expected to be finished in 2019. With 2.1 million square feet of flexible space, the center is already the largest convention space in the Northeast, and the proposal would increase the meeting and exhibit space by approximately 60 percent.

Naturally, such a huge increase in the ability to host more attendees and exhibitors would be followed by a place for all those participants to stay, and hotel corporations are already vying for the chance to build a full-service, 1,000-room property across from the BCEC. Development teams representing Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, MGM Resorts, Omni and Starwood all responded to a request for qualifications earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: Big Progress At Big Convention Center

Building On A Foundation Of Success

The BCEC has only been in operation since 2004, but it’s clear that the center has delivered some big benefits for Boston with $5.3 billion of economic impact. The MCCA has done a tremendous job of connecting the dots between that big dollar figure and the local community, too. In April, the organization announced that more than one million cab rides to or from the BCEC have occurred since the building opened. The MCCA will be honoring all those drivers this summer with a Taxi Appreciation Day.

Interested in learning more about the current BCEC for an upcoming meeting. Click here for the planner’s guide.

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