We asked Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, about meeting in Long Beach, the 36th-largest city in the U.S.
What’s one thing people are surprised to learn about Long Beach?
Long Beach is a very big city — bigger than Cleveland, Minneapolis, and New Orleans. Plus it’s the only city with a downtown waterfront between San Diego and San Francisco, combining the urban culture, excitement, and amenities of a big city with the welcoming laid-back charm of a beach town.
If Long Beach were a dog, what breed would it be?
Long Beach is noted as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country, but if the city itself were a canine, it would be a Labrador Retriever. A big, but not too big, very friendly dog that loves to be outdoors in the sun, running and playing in or near the water.
What’s the next new development in Long Beach?
The Cove event venue — a formerly unremarkable street-level entryway to our convention center’s Seaside Ballroom and meeting rooms that has been transformed into a colorfully dramatic “porte cochére,” with an “under the pier” theme — opens in June. A motif of giant starfish and other aquatic animals are illuminated by thousands of rainbow-hued LED lights that can create a constantly changing light show. More than an entryway, the Cove will function as event space for receptions, parties, and food-truck dining experiences.
Opening at the same time will be The Wave pedestrian bridge, connecting the center’s Pine Avenue main entrance to the Terrace Plaza and the Seaside event spaces. The Wave will carry pedestrians safely above Seaside Way along an artistic pathway landscaped with California native flora, and lit at night with thousands of colorful LED lights. More than just an architectural structure, the bridge will be a new piece of artwork in our downtown waterfront.
What recent event in Long Beach stands out in your mind?
Musica Angelica is a Long Beach–based orchestra that performs the timeless music from the Baroque period. The musicians play authentic instruments from that period, letting the audience hear the grandeur of Mozart, Bach, and the other Baroque greats — just as their music sounded when it was first created.
Modeled after garden parties popular in Baroque-era Vienna, the 2016 fundraising gala was a modern spin on a private garden concert, a throw-back to a bygone era — an open-air garden party, indoors. Guests found themselves in a Viennese garden, complete with a bubbling garden fountain, green hedges, flowers, and full-size trees twinkling with candlelights.
What’s one request that you’re seeing more of from event organizers?
More and more groups are asking us to help them make local community connections, especially with charities, youth organizations, and schools. Some recent examples include the Longines Masters Equestrian event. We assisted them in reaching out to schools, community associations, youth groups like Boy Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs. They provided educational experiences and tours for the kids, as well as free event tickets for them and their families.
The DTRA Science and Technology Conference will be in Long Beach in November and they are looking to provide educational experiences for middle school STEM program Students at Long Beach Unified School District.
The World Championships of Performing Arts is an international talent competition bringing in young performers from around the globe. Our CVB team has assisted their staff in making local connections with our schools, colleges, and artistic groups.