Anaheim city officials performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting on September 26 and officially opened the 200,000 square-foot Anaheim Convention Center North expansion. The $190 million expansion makes Anaheim one of just 11 cities in the nation with more than a 1 million square feet of meeting space, and 75 conventions and meetings have already been booked for the expanded facility.
Hundreds attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt, Councilmembers Steve Faessel, Lucille Kring and Denise Barnes, former Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau President Charles Ahlers, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ament, and representatives from the local hotel industry and area businesses.
Breaking the 1-million square feet barrier “puts us into rare air of the convention center business,” said Jay Burress, president and CEO of VisitAnaheim.com.
The expansion was fueled in large part by the need to retain current key conventions that were outgrowing the Convention Center’s existing dimensions, such as the National Association of Music Merchants and the Natural Products Expo West.
“The largest annual shows have really peaked out, and they need more space to remain in Anaheim in the future,” according to Burress.
The expansion positions the ACC to go after larger conventions that ring with them a more affluent category of convention-goers, such as the American Heart Association – which is one of the 75 groups that have booked the new space. The addition of five 4-Diamond hotels in the next few years – including the Westin Anaheim opening in 2019 adjacent to the Convention Center – will enhance the cities ability to go head-to-head with even the biggest convention destinations in the country.
Tom Morton, executive director of Anaheim’s Convention, Sports & Entertainment Department, called the expansion “a transformative event,” saying that “not only is this our largest expansion since 2000, it is one of the most significant in terms of the features and innovations it brings to Anaheim.”
The new facility boasts a 10,000 square foot balcony running along Katella Avenue and overlooking Disneyland, and a wall of windows allows natural light to pour into the building. The ACC North’s 200,000 square feet of meeting space includes a column-free, 100,000 square-foot hall on the upper level. More than 1,350 parking spaces were added.
All in all, the Anaheim Convention Center covers a total of 1.8 million square feet, including more than a million square feet of exhibition space, 99 meeting rooms, 352,000 square feet of meeting space, 238,000 square feet of ballroom space and more than 3,000 parking spaces.