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M.I.C.E. Venues

 November 18, 2003
Virginia Beach's New Convention Center

 Recently, the Virginia Beach City Council increased the budget of the new Virginia Beach Convention Center to $202.5 million, increasing the size of the facility and ensuring the design of the facility includes such signature amenities as video walls, wood finishes in the ballroom and ballroom pre-function space, extensive landscaping and high-tech lighting. "It's vitally important that we maintain the quality and excellence of the new Convention Center," said James B. Ricketts, director of the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The facility was designed to provide convention attendees with a first class convention facility that has flexibility and premier amenities throughout the building. The enhancements to the center will help attract top-notch meetings and conventions to our resort city, bolstering visitation and stimulating the economic development of the region."

The additions to the budget are earmarked to expand the Exhibit Hall from 142,200 square feet to 150,000 square feet and add an additional 300 parking spaces. A total of 2,400 free parking spaces will be available in the new facility. Some of the additional enhancements are as follows: nearly $1.1 million for amenities in the ballroom, one of the largest on the East Coast; $1.2 million in additional landscaping and irrigation; $111,000 additional for meeting room partitions and finishes; $107,000 for skylights at the Exhibit Hall entrances; and $900,000 for a state-of-the-art video wall. City Council was able to fund these enhancements from the existing fund stream approved by City Council. Due to decreased interest rates, no additional revenue will be required to complete the projects.

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Architects, based in Chicago, designed the signature center with a maritime theme, using elements that mimic the ocean's waves and the sails of a seafaring vessel. The new Convention Center will be constructed in the same location as the current Pavilion Convention Center on 19th Street, a few blocks from the oceanfront.

The design of the new Virginia Beach Convention Center will allow amazing flexibility to accommodate and fully equip groups of all sizes. Specifically, it will include a 150,000 square-foot exhibition hall, a ballroom of 31,029 square feet, 28,929 square feet of meeting space, generous pre-function space, 2,400 free parking spaces and the latest technological amenities.

The Pavilion will remain fully operational during construction of the new facility through a phased building process. Phase IA -- scheduled to be completed in Summer, 2005 -- will include approximately 56,000 square feet of exhibit space, the entire ballroom and close to 20,000 square feet of meeting room space. Phase IB construction will immediately follow, to complete the balance of the exhibit and meeting room space. The Convention Center is expected to open in January, 2007.

With nearly 11,000 hotel rooms and a temperate year-round climate, Virginia Beach is an ideal convention, meeting and trade show destination any time of the year. A full-time professional staff is available to help planners with everything from pre-site selection and housing registration to itinerary planning for spousal activities. Virginia Beach's central East Coast location makes it an ideal drive or fly destination for attendees. Approximately four hours southeast of Washington, D.C. by car, and within a day's drive of one-third of the U.S. population, Virginia Beach is served by most major U.S. airlines at nearby Norfolk International Airport.