Las Vegas Convention Center Puts Its Money on Expansion to Attract More Visitors

Posted on: February 24, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: February 24, 2017, 02:15h.

For a town where big, glitzy productions are the norm, even the Las Vegas Convention Center’s expansion plans are impressive.

Members of the Oversight Panel for Convention Facilities got their first glimpse of the vision officials at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) have for updating the buildings on Thursday.

Las Vegas Convention Center
The Las Vegas Convention Center is in the planning stages of a $1.4 billion renovation that would make it the second-largest facility of its type in the U.S. (Image: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority)

This was the first of three meetings by the board, and if all goes well, the construction plan will be approved in May. Thursday’s meeting was to view reports and plans. The next meeting, scheduled for March, will address budget, scheduling, and financing, and the group will look at design and construction in April.

If ratified, the remodel would begin as soon as possible, with a goal of completion by 2022. The cost of the project is estimated at $1.4 billion. Funding is provided by the same hotel tax legislation that would pay for a proposed NFL stadium for the anticipated Oakland Raiders move.

Tourists Targeted

The strategy behind the renovations is to bring more people and companies into Las Vegas, and to continue courting longstanding conventions to stay in the city.

There had been rumblings that the outdated structures and rumors were pushing some organizations to take their shows to other cities, such as Orlando or Chicago. The city also faced smaller competing convention space venues locally, such as Mandalay Bay and the Sands.

Fortunately, attendance has increased significantly year-to-year, with an uptick of 14.4 percent in 2016, according to the LVCVA figures.

Tourists numbers have also risen, per the report, as have hotel occupancy rates and gambling revenue. A targeting of Asian gamblers with a direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, as well as the new themed casino resort Lucky Dragon, have added to that growth.

Ambitious Plan

LVCVA executives are aiming for a 30 percent growth spike in tourism by 2022, a move that would take its current market share of 16 percent up another 14 percent in less than a decade. Improving the Convention Center is one viable means to achieve that objective.

The transformation calls for an increase in space from 1.9 million square feet to 2.5 million square feet in five years. That would make it the second-largest ConVis, with Chicago’s McCormick Place first at 2.6 million square feet.

The work would be done in stages and would not interfere with any current trade exhibitions held at the facility. The first section would be the planned new hall being built, followed by the Central Hall. The North Hall would be next and lastly the South Hall.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval(R) appointed the panel to oversee the project and has long been a proponent of it. “The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expansion is critical to the longevity of Nevada’s tourism industry,” he said in a statement.