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 March 31, 2006
Anchorage Civic & Convention Center Update

 A world-class convention facility is about to take center state in Alaska's largest city, allowing for a major boost to Anchorage's economy. After years of planning, Anchorage will break ground for its 215,000 square foot expanded civic and convention center in mid-April, weather permitting.

"The city's civic and convention capacity will soon increase by 300 percent, which will allow Anchorage to generate millions of dollars in new convention meeting and event business," said Bruce Bustamante, president and C.E.O. of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The expanded facility will highlight Anchorage's sophistication as a modern, international meeting destination, while showcasing the city's exotic appeal to visitors from around the world."

The $103 million facility is designed to be the most significant convention facility in the far northern portion of the United States. Both the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center and the expanded facility will offer substantial meeting space for groups up to 5,000. The facility, designed by Rim Architects and LMN, will showcase Anchorage's spectacular scenery while taking advantage of the low sun angle during the winter and the drawn out sunsets during the summer.

"We took advantage of the unique lighting we have at this latitude, together with the broad vistas of Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains, and brought that into the expanded facility," said Rolland Reid, senior vice president of Rim Architects.

Throughout the various levels of the facility, architects have taken cues from Alaska's four seasons and worked them into the wall finishes and the color of the carpets. One level embraces fall landscapes and the changing colors of the high country, while another takes visitors into the summer landscape. Highly reflective materials and cooler hues will be used as visitors move into the winter landscape.

Other features include protected vestibule entrances and a roof designed to prevent snow shedding. Architects have also designed upgraded heated sidewalks lined with trees, canopies and lighting. The sidewalks will link the expanded facility to the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center and the Alaska Performing Arts Center. The overall goal is to create an exceptional winter city design solution.

"The exterior custom concrete panels will capture the light and create unique shadows," Reid added. "The windows in the north facing lobby allow a large amount of light in, providing the facility and the downtown area with a feeling of vitality."

During construction, the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) will be working hard to generate a high number of sales leads to fill the expanded complex by utilizing shared databases and qualifying prospective leads. ACVB's strategy also includes collaborating with local representatives of national associations to target specific industries.

"Our sales team will boost activities such as blitzes, sales missions and familiarization tours this year to increase convention business," Bustamante said. "ACVB plans to build our sales and service staff as budget allows to meet the mission of selling more exhibit and meeting space," he added.

Organizations that have booked convention space in Anchorage through 2010 include the Western Association of Students Financial Aid (April 25 - 28, 2009), with 500 delegates and an estimated economic impact (EEI) of $723,305; the Western States Communication Association (March 5 - 10, 2010), with 600 delegates and an EEI of $693,523; and IEEE International Conference on Robotics (May 4 - 7, 2010), with 1,100 delegates and an EEI of $1,313,858.

When it's completed in Fall 2008/Spring 2009, the expanded center's 26,000 square foot ballroom will have the capacity for 140 booths, 2,000 banquet seats and 2,800 theatre style. The exhibit hall will accommodate 250 trade show booths, 3,500 banquet seating and 5,000 theatre space. The flexible space will expand as needed, providing 11,300 square feet of meeting rooms.

According to a study by Northern Economics, Inc., the level of economic activity generated by the Egan Center and the expanded facility will increase by more than $133 million dollars annually during the complex's fifth year of operation, totaling $250.6 million. Bed tax revenues returned to the Municipality of Anchorage are anticipated to grow by more than $20 million by 2018.

Other exciting changes unfolding in Anchorage include capital improvements planned for the William A. Egan Center during the next three years. Three million dollars in revenue bonds will pay for several upgrades including improvements to the Explorer Hall roof, renovations to the lower level restrooms and the replacement of the lower level audio system and the existing water lines.

Several other facilities and locations in the heart of Anchorage are getting a makeover. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center will soon have a new façade incorporating a winter city design with new galleries, an Arctic Studies Center, library, café, a new promenade that connects 6th and 7th Avenues and landscaping with a pond that mimics tidal waters. The $100 million project is scheduled for completion in 2010. The $8 million E Street enhancement creates a pedestrian and shopping-friendly corridor that will incorporate elements of Alaska Native culture, smart growth designs and Anchorage's historic past. The trail along Ship Creek and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail will be connected and become a transportation hub established at the Ship Creek Intermodal Transportation Center. Two popular recreational areas, Town Square Park and the Delaney Park Strip, are also getting upgrades.

"It's very exciting to be part of the dynamic changes Anchorage is about to see," said Bustamante. "Partnering with community leaders, civic organizations, ACVB members and other businesses is the key to achieving an expanding, robust economy."