Major Venue Updates for Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale/Broward County

February 10, 2020

Two major convention venues in the Southeast U.S. have been expanding their event spaces to accommodate more trade show business. Here’s how things are developing with Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center and Florida’s Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Georgia World Congress Center Completes Exhibit Hall BC

Georgia World Congress Center’s new $55 million Exhibit Hall BC project has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget. With the 100,000-square-foot expansion creating more than 1 million square feet of contiguous exhibition space, the GWCC’s total exhibit space now grosses more than 1.4 million sq. ft.

"International Production & Processing Expo, held Jan. 26-28, was the first convention to use the new exhibit hall."

As the GWCC’s first major expansion since 2002, Exhibit Hall BC is poised to make a quick return on investment, with more than 20 events already committed to using the new space and bookings stretching into 2030. This translates into approximately $20 million in rental revenue and the potential of drawing more than 600,000 attendees to the city, according to GWCCA officials

“The Congress Center’s expansion reaffirms its importance to Georgia’s economic growth and continued increase in tourism,” said State Senator Butch Miller, chairman of GWCCA’s legislative overview committee. “I applaud the Authority for completing this project ahead of schedule and under budget; it exemplifies its continued stewardship of the funds we’ve entrusted to them.”

As part of the Authority’s 2020 strategic plan, focused on reshaping the downtown Atlanta campus to draw in more event business and tourism, the Exhibit Hall BC expansion completion joins a $27 million capital improvement project at Centennial Olympic Park and the addition of a Signia by Hilton headquarter hotel that is set to break ground this spring. 

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Expansion

The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center has launched a $1 billion expansion and headquarters hotel project that will grow the existing 600,000 sq. ft. South Florida facility to 1.2 million sq. ft.

Set to be fully underway by March 2 and completed in phases by mid 2023, the expansion will include 350,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space and 132,000 sq. ft. of ballroom space across four ballrooms, including a new 65,000 sq. ft. waterfront ballroom. Total meeting space will measure 215,000 sq. ft. with 50 breakout rooms, 220,000 sq. ft. of flexible space and a 6-acre outdoor waterfront plaza.

Fort Lauderdale

Slated for completion in 2023, the project’s new 800-room Omni headquarters hotel will feature a rooftop bar with waterfront views, multiple dining venues, 73,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, a spa and fitness center, and outdoor event space.

With the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification, the venue expansion and headquarters hotel will be the centerpiece of a convention center district enhancement project that will include outdoor event space, new dining concepts, shopping, arts and cultural attractions.

“Years of careful planning have brought us here, and we are celebrating the fact that this expansion will boost the local economy and create more than 1,000 new jobs,” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness.

According to Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB officials, preliminary work on the demolition of the convention center’s surrounding structures kicked off in summer 2019; the facility will close at the end of February as major construction takes hold for the next 18 months. The convention center will open in phases with some meetings returning in late 2021, and the expanded exhibit hall and full completion is expected by mid 2023. 

Check out a video of the expansion project here.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.