Ground was broken today on the seventh Anaheim Convention Center expansion when Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring hit the air horn and a pair of power excavators went to town on the soon-to-be-demolished surface parking area while the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blared from the loudspeakers:
ACC Executive Director Tom Morton presided over the ceremonies, attended by Mayor Pro Tem Kring (who spoke), Councilmembers Kris Murray and Jordan Brandman and former Councilmembers Gail Eastman and Shirley McCracken; Mayor Tom Tait was out of town and Councilman James Vanderbilt was a no-show.
The expansion – due to be completed in May 2017 – will add 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to the building – bringing the ACC to more than a million square feet of meeting space and cementing its status as the largest convention center on the West Coast.
The new building will be two levels, and 100,000 square feet of the added space will be free of pillars. It will also feature 25 foot ceilings, 1,350 parking paces and a 10,00 square foot balcony. here will be a new main entrance on Katella Avenue, and it will be connected to the existing facility by a climate-controlled pedestrian bridge.
When completed, the increased convention business attracted due to the expansion — approved last year by the council majority — is expected to generate an additional $9 million in tax revenue for the city. Anaheim/OC Visitor and Convention Bureau President and CEO Jay Buress informed ceremony attendees that nearly 20 now conventions have already booked specifically because of the expansion, such as the American Heart Association, Keller Williams and the American Wind Energy Associations. An additional 26 shows have tentatively committed due to the expansion, but have not yet gone to contract.
Today’s ceremony was a reminder of something that seems lost on the critics who carp about the expansion or declare Anaheim shouldn’t be in the convention center business. That ship sailed nearly 50 years ago. Anaheim has been in the convention center business for half-a-century, and has built a successful business model in the course of those decades. The prudent, responsible and conservative thing to do is the maintain Anaheim’s competitive edge as a convention destination because – notwithstanding the tiresome contempt of carpers and nags — the Anaheim Resort Area is the economic engine of the city; this expansion will keep it performing for many years to come.