The America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis will undergo an expansion and extensive renovations. The AC Next Gen Project, which will include the addition of 92,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 65,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting area, a new outdoor pavilion and 26 new loading docks, was announced during a press conference held on October 3.
The Complex hosts roughly 100 events annually, bringing in more than 600,000 attendees, booking 300,000 hotel room nights and generating $265 million of new direct economic spending for the community according to Johnson Consulting. Most importantly, the facility supports more than 3,300 full-time jobs for residents across the St. Louis region.
“I’m excited to announce a joint commitment between St. Louis City and St. Louis County in America’s Center,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson of the City of St. Louis. “This investment has paid off for the St. Louis region in the past and it will continue to do so in the future.”
The Cervantes Convention Center was originally built in 1977 and officials said it is in need of modernization, including expanded, contiguous and consistent exhibit space, improved loading dock access to the exhibit halls, the addition of a sizeable multi-purpose space and improved service access to exhibit halls and meetings areas.
The total cost of implementing the AC Next Gen Project is estimated at approximately $175 million paid for by existing hotel and motel taxes. The expansion and renovation will include the following elements:
- Addition of 92,000 square feet of exhibit space.
- A 65,000-square-foot multipurpose ballroom and meeting area with 20,000 square feet prefunction event space.
- 22,000 square feet of new support space to improve service access to current and new exhibit halls and ballrooms.
- The construction of 26 new loading docks and renovation of existing 12 docks that will all be enclosed to enhance access and aesthetics of the building and surrounding areas.
- An outdoor pavilion to serve the needs of convention attendees and improve the convention center district ambiance for residents and area workers as well.
- Refurbishment of the central Washington Avenue entrance.
- The Dome will remain a flexible multipurpose venue for meeting planners and other clients hosting large-scale events and activities.
Upon completion, these enhancements will stabilize the current decline in event bookings and potentially create nearly 36 percent growth according to the most recent estimates by Johnson Consulting.
“This is a good deal for [St. Louis] County taxpayers as the proposed revenue will be paid from out of town visitors who stay in our [hotels and motels],” said County Executive Steve Stenger of St. Louis County.
Through the support of legislation proposed by elected officials in both St. Louis and St. Louis County, the project will be funded by the extension of payments from the designated fund set up through the hotel and motel taxes collected in the area, which was initiated to build The Dome at America’s Center.
There will be no new tax on local residents, as this is only paid by people staying in area hotels, as has been the case since the construction of The Dome began, city and county officials clarified. Ordinances detailing the financing packages are to be introduced shortly in both St. Louis and St. Louis County.
Following is a first look at some of the America's Center Convention Complex renovation renderings: