America's Center Convention Complex Will Update and Expand
America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis is about to get a major makeover. On April 16, the St. Louis City Council joined the City of St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen in approving the AC Next Gen Project, an estimated $175 billion plan that will update, modernize and expand the multi-venue complex to ensure its place as an economic and employment driver for the region.
The ACCC currently comprises the 42-year-old Cervantes Convention Center, St. Louis Executive Conference Center, The Dome at America’s Center and Ferrara Theater.
Proposed last fall, the project will include the addition of 92,000 square feet of expo space; a 65,000-sq-ft. multi-purpose ballroom and meeting area with 20,000 sq. ft of pre-function space; a new outdoor pavilion and 26 loading docks. A construction timeline for the project has yet to be determined.
The need to expand has reached an urgent level as competition increases from convention centers across the country making sizable investments to lure lucrative meetings and events to their communities, according to city officials.
“We are pleased that the community has come together to support this critical project,” said Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis. “At present, America’s Center’s prominence and value to the region are threatened because its amenities have not kept pace.”
In the last decade, major cities in St. Louis’ competitive landscape have either built a new facility, such as Nashville’s $623 million new Music City Center, or have made major improvements to existing venues, such San Antonio’s $325 million enhancements to the Henry B. González Convention Center, Ratcliffe added.
Upon completion, the enhancements are expected to stabilize the Complex’s current decline in event bookings, potentially creating nearly 36 percent growth, according to the most recent estimates by Johnson Consulting, which worked with the city to assess the need for an expansion project.
“We’ve been hearing from customers for a number of years that the America’s Center Convention Complex needs a larger ballroom, additional loading docks and more exhibit space, as many of the cities we compete with for business have been investing heavily into their facilities,” explained Anthony Paraino, director of communications for Explore St. Louis. “The AC Next Gen project will make us more competitive and help us deliver on the needs of our clients.”
ACCC hosts roughly 100 events annually with more than 600,000 attendees and 300,000 hotel room nights. This generates $265 million of new direct economic spending for the community, according to Johnson Consulting.
Through the support of legislation proposed by elected officials in St. Louis City and St. Louis County, the project will be funded completely by an extension of payments from the designated fund set up through hotel and motel taxes.
Learn more details about the preliminary AC Next Gen project here.