Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion Nearly Complete, But Large Indoor Gatherings Remain on Hold

Posted on: November 12, 2020, 08:30h. 

Last updated on: November 12, 2020, 09:04h.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said at its meeting this week that the $980.3 million expansion of its Convention Center is 97 percent complete.

Las Vegas Convention Center Nevada Sisolak
Workers stand on the outdoor terrace at the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall expansion. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

Plans to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center were announced in 2018. Originally budgeted at $860 million, the cost has ballooned more than $120 million. The West Hall expansion adds 600,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a 14,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with views of the Strip.

LVCVA Chief Operating Officer Brian Yost told the board of directors that construction is approaching completion. He said almost four million man-hours on the worksite have been completed, and the project is expected to be fully finished in December.

West Hall is where the famed Riviera once stood. The LVCVA acquired the Strip casino resort in February of 2015 for $182.5 million. The government agency demolished it in two separate implosions in the summer of 2016.

Conventions Wanted

When the LVCVA signed off on expanding its Convention Center and investing nearly $1 billion into it, no one could have predicted the COVID-19 reality that is today. Las Vegas relies heavily on conventions to support its economy, but the LVCVA hasn’t reported a single convention attendee in seven months.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) continues to limit indoor gatherings to 250 people. The governor has made exceptions for larger venues, but they must remain lower than 10 percent of their overall fire code capacity.

“The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) West Hall expansion is a vital investment by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to help solidify our position as the country’s No. 1 trade show destination. The LVCVA will reinvent the LVCC as a state-of-the art facility featuring the latest technology,” the agency maintains on its website.

Las Vegas is certainly ready for when conventions resume on a large scale.

West Hall, which is situated northwest of the main Convention Center, is connected via an underground transit system called the Loop. The tunnel network is being built by billionaire Elon Musk’s Boring Company. Passengers are escorted underneath the 200-acre convention campus in Tesla Model 3 or Model X vehicles at speeds up to 35 MPH.

Cases Increasing

As many medical and science experts predicted, America is experiencing a fall surge in new COVID-19 cases. It was revealed this week that more than 700 visitors to Las Vegas have contracted the coronavirus since casinos were permitted to reopen in June..

Sisolak this week encouraged Nevadans to avoid all unnecessary travel, though he said the state remains open for business, including tourism. The governor later acknowledged the apparent double standard.

Yes, there may be a perception of a double standard here. But managing through this pandemic protecting your jobs and your health is a daily challenge,” Sisolak declared. “And the only way we can get to the other side is for all of us to fight this horrible virus together.”

Sisolak’s orders include mandatory wearing of masks in any public setting indoors and out. “That means covering your nose AND your mouth,” he stated this week.