America’s Center Convention Complex Opens in St. Louis Soon—Everything You Can Expect for Meetings
Overcoming a number of challenges—with the pandemic chief among them--St. Louis is about to unveil a majorly improved convention center.
Following decades with little updates, America’s Convention Center Complex is gearing up to debut a large expansion and renovation that will improve the hosting capabilities in downtown St. Louis, dubbed “AC Next Gen.”
The team at Explore St. Louis is already feeling the positive effects of the project that is opening doors for new meeting and event clients.
“As the AC Next Gen project continues to take shape, we have three groups considering us that are impacted by the expansion and update at America’s Center,” said David Duncan, chief sales officer for Explore St. Louis. “They indicated that the additional exhibit hall has been a key factor, as well as the increased number and enclosure of our loading docks. The value the three groups will bring is approximately 117,000 room nights, impacting America’s Center business from 2026 to 2029.”
Known as the “Gateway to the West,” for more than a century, the city in which millions of travelers traveled through to explore and settle in the western U.S., St. Louis remains a major hub of activity and business. New venues, renovated historic properties, a walkable downtown and now a new-and-improved convention center only strengthen the argument to bring your event business to town.
Following, we introduce you to the improved Complex and reacquaint you with everything else St. Louis has to offer meetings and events.
AC Next Gen Details
The $240 million facelift of America’s Center addresses the trends and needs of today’s meeting planner, including more outdoor space, open exhibit space, more loading dock access, air quality improvements and more. The details of the expansion are as follows:
New 72,000-square-foot exhibit hall, which adds to the already-existing 500,000-plus square feet of exhibit space. Windows that let in natural light (with the ability to be blacked out) will be added for a light ambience. The new hall can be accessed from the 9th Street Concourse and new MLK lobby.
Expanded and enhanced loading docks, which doubles the current capacity and will all be enclosed, in an effort to enhance access and improve aesthetics.
New outdoor green gathering space, added in response to the pandemic-era demand for flexible indoor-outdoor space.
Refurbishment of the central Washington Avenue entrance, to improve the first impression of the hundreds of thousands of event attendees who visit the Complex. A new canopy, LED lighting and touchless entry are among the improvements.
A food garden will be added adjacent to the new exhibit hall space, where onsite caterer Levy Restaurants will harvest fresh produce to use in meals served at events.
The Complex still maintains its vast existing meeting and event space, including a 28,000-square-foot ballroom, 80 meeting rooms, St. Louis Executive Conference Center, the 67,000-seat Dome and 1,400-seat Ferrara Theater.
Around the America's Center Convention Complex
For meeting planners unfamiliar with America’s Center Convention Complex, it’s worth noting that the location of the venue is hard to beat, located in the heart of the city and nearby many hotels, attractions, restaurants, bars and more. More than 8,000 hotel rooms are within walking distance from the venue. Staples in the area include Marriott Grand St. Louis, Courtyard St. Louis Downtown/Convention Center, Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Louis Downtown and Hotel St. Louis, among others just blocks away.
A half mile down the road is Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village—a popular spot for after-meetings fun or offsite event option. Busch Stadium is home to the St. Louis Cardinals, and while the stadium itself is capable of hosting private events, the surrounding Ballpark Village and Live! By Loews–St. Louis add even more possibilities to the mix. The hotel has 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space and 216 guest rooms (including 19 suites). Many bars and restaurants populate the lively Ballpark Village area, too.
A short mile-ride away in Downtown West you’ll find historic Union Station. Within, St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, makes for a timeless and memorable home base for events. The AAA Four Diamond Hotel—an icon in St. Louis since the late 1800s—honors its rail history throughout and offers more than 100,000 square feet of grandiose event space including the Grand Hall entryway, where a hypnotizing 3D light show plays on the ceiling.
Nearby Union Station attractions like the St. Louis Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel and more outlets—most of which have been added to the area over the past five years—offer stunning spaces for events as well as opportunities for teambuilding and networking via mini golf and more.
Plus: Latest Hotel Developments in St. Louis (2023)
- 21c Museum St. Louis opened in August in the heart of St. Louis, a short walk from City Museum and the new CITYPARK stadium. Housed in a historic, 10-story building, formerly a YMCA, the hotel has 173 guest rooms plus a contemporary art museum, Idol Wolf restaurant, a full-service wellness center and 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
- Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis completed a refresh of its 200 guest rooms and suites earlier this year. The stylish redesign was influenced by the city views of the majestic Mississippi River, Eads Bridge and the iconic Gateway Arch, which can all be seen from the hotel. The Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis has 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, Topgolf Swing Suite, onsite restaurant Cinder House with a menu created by James Beard Award-winning chef Gerard Craft, a rooftop terrace with a pool and more.
- CITYPARK, a 22,500-seat soccer stadium for MLS Club St. Louis CITY FC, opened earlier this year in time for the 2023 season. The stadium, which is across the street from historic Union Station, can host private events and also can work with planners to coordinate stadium tours and other add-on activations (see details on p. 36).