Augusta Convention Center has 20 events lined up

Those in charge of filling up the new Augusta Convention Center have locked in 20 events so far, and the tourism impact is about $12 million. Most of those – 17 conventions – happen this year. And there’s seven more in the tentative booking stage.

Darryl Leech, the vice president and general manager of the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, said they used the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau metrics to come up with the economic impact of the conventions that have been booked.

The 38,000-square-foot addition has been under construction for more than two years and will hold its first event Feb. 24 with a bridal show, Brides & Bouquets.

The number of attendees that account for that $12 million visitor-spending impact is 23,000. Leech said the impact will go up another $10 million if the tentative events sign on the dotted line, and add 17,000 more people to what’s going to fill the convention center.

“What we were was a conference center. Now, we’re morphing into a convention center,’’ Leech said.

The biggest event coming to the Augusta Convention Center is the triathlon in September. Ironman will bring in 5,000 attendees and result in $4 million of that economic impact.

In previous years, Leech said, the Ironman was overrunning the space in the conference center.

‘‘Now that (convention) hall will handle them perfectly,’’ he said. “They use it for their expo and training meetings. That expo is big, they sell an enormous amount of product at that.”

Ironman will be back in 2014 and possibly 2015 and 2016. Leech said his team is in contact with people who need space for boat shows, car shows, roller derbies and karate tournaments – not the kind of stuff they could do in the ballrooms and meeting rooms. And not the kind of stuff that would go to James Brown Arena.

Conventions need flat floor space that’s convertible. The arena isn’t that convertible and is filled with stadium seating, Leech said.


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LuvMyTown 02/12/13 - 07:46 am
Good news!

Good news!

Riverman1 02/12/13 - 08:36 am
I am privileged along with

I am privileged along with some other activists to discuss downtown Augusta issues with one of the most influential people in town. She is not pleased with the Potemkin Center in any way. It is a financial failure is the truth of the matter as I described in detail above. It was not built to enhance the lives of citizens. The promises were it would MAKE hundreds of millions. With the JB Arena, we have a facility designed to bring entertainment to the people. We all knew all along it would never make money. But the Potemkin Center was built on promises of financial success due to increased tax revenue from visitors.

Understand that along with the $38 million, management, utilities and maintenance fees, along with the Laney Walker payoff, we are right at $100 million. So back to the views of this downtown property owner and lifetime Augusta devotee. Imagine what $100 million could have done for downtown Augusta is her point. This is the question. Could $100 million have been spent in much better ways that would have improved the city enough to draw visitors and businesses?

What’s so sad about all this is she and others explained why the center was a bad idea. Dr. Heywood Sanders, the foremost expert in convention centers, commented to her later after the Mayor and Commission wouldn’t let him speak to them, that he knew right away what was happening. Well connected people would profit from the center. He spoke with her at a conference recently and gave her a kindly, “I told you so.” Imagine how we could have changed downtown with a well spent $100 million.

countyman 02/13/13 - 02:41 pm
Who promised hundreds of

Who promised hundreds of millions? Why are you comparing the JB arena with a convention center? Two completely different set of venues in downtown Augusta.

The $37.5 million is over fifty years, and include two different neighborhoods(Laney Walker & Bethlehem).

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