Study Says Convention Center Should Expand

Mike Mayo subleased a 10.5' x 32' space to sell his antiques. He's one of 53 vendors who will fill this coliseum convention center hall for a weekend antiques show.

Bob Gabel organized the event. "It's adequate for us," Gabel said, as he described the hall being used for the show. "But for other convention centers we go to, they're a lot larger."

While the antiques dealers set up their displays, teachers were in an adjacent hall. The special education conference nearly doubled in size from its inaugural meeting last year. "Twelve hundred has been quite comfortable in here," special education director Melody Bounds said. "But if we continue to grow, we're going to need more space."

More space. That's something coliseum director Bill Holmes often asks for, even though the last convention center expansion was completed just a half dozen years ago. Holmes may get his wish. A newly formed tourism task force recently commissioned a study to see if another 200,000 square feet should be added to the convention center, before it becomes an antique.

"The initial study does indicate that expansion is the way we should proceed now," said Holmes. The coliseum director believes the benefits of a convention center expansion are obvious. "We'll be able to bring in hundreds of thousands of more people annually into our economy," he said.

How to pay for more convention rooms will be addressed in phase two of the study. That comes out in July.

Minnesota based Convention, Sports and Leisure was hired by the tourism task force to do the convention center study. Its representatives will be here next month to explain why it believes the coliseum's meeting rooms should be expanded.