. Which Convention Centers Are Open? | Northstar Meetings Group

Which Convention Centers Are Open?

Detroit's TCF Center held its first live event since March 2020, as well as other updates of the largest convention facilities in the U.S. — whether they're open and which convention centers are providing Covid testing and vaccinations.

Chicago's McCormick Place is currently closed, but the venue has launched a thorough Safety First protocol, making upgrades to its cleaning procedures, air quality, room layout, operations and design.
Chicago's McCormick Place is currently closed, but the venue has launched a thorough Safety First protocol, making upgrades to its cleaning procedures, air quality, room layout, operations and design. Photo Credit:Rob Sall, courtesy of Choose Chicago

Gathering Restrictions by State
When will large gatherings be allowed? See the latest restrictions, meeting limits and safety protocols for every state in the U.S. in our comprehensive roundup.

Updated Feb. 22. Many convention centers have had to close their doors to groups or impose major restrictions on gatherings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but some of the country’s largest facilities have been working behind the scenes and proving themselves to be remarkably flexible. They are rolling out new health and safety protocols, using the downtime to make major building upgrades or even offering their facilities for use as vaccine distribution sites, Covid testing centers or alternate care facilities.

The latest news: on Feb. 18, TCF Center reopened its doors to events for the first time since March 2020. See more details on that below as well as the current opening status of the largest convention centers in the United States, updates about which convention centers serve as vaccine sites, as well as the safety protocols each has put in place and any other renovations of note.

McCormick Place Convention Center

Chicago
2.6 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: McCormick Place is closed until further notice

Since last March, McCormick Place has been closed to outside events. But as it prepares to reopen, the venue has developed thorough safety protocols, making upgrades to its cleaning procedures, air quality, room layout, operations and design. The efforts have earned it GBAC Star certification from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

Beyond its investment in safety, the McCormick Place has also been making a number of other major upgrades, including its lighting with more energy-efficient bulbs. Read more about what’s new and what’s open in Chicago here.

Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC)

Las Vegas
2.5 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: LVCC is closed until further notice

lvcc-west-hall
A rendering of the Las Vegas Convention Center's new West Hall

With the state of Nevada currently capping gatherings at 50 people or less, the Las Vegas Convention Center is not currently hosting meetings or conventions. In the downtime, the venue has earned GBAC Star accreditation and laid out extensive Meet Smart, Vegas Smart health and safety protocols for employees, guests and groups. It covers food and beverage, retail and event service providers. Nevada’s latest directives and updates can be found at the Nevada Health Response website.

LVCC is also in the midst of a large-scale expansion, adding 1.4 million square feet with the new West Hall, in addition to the 3.2 million square feet of existing space, bringing the total venue to 4.6 million square feet.

Areas of the LVCC have also been dedicated to providing assistance amidst the pandemic, with one of the building's halls serving as a Covid-19 testing facility and beginning in early February, part of the building will serve as a vaccination site.

Orange County Convention Center (OCCC)

Orlando
2.1 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: OCCC is open

Orlando's Orange County Convention Center has made more than $200 million worth of upgrades and renovations, including roof replacements and signage upgrades.
Orlando's Orange County Convention Center has made more than $200 million worth of upgrades and renovations, including roof replacements and signage upgrades.

Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center remains open for groups — in fact, from March to December 2020, the OCCC safely hosted more than 50 events under modified operations. These adjustments include the addition of more hand sanitizer stations, staggered attendance, specific entries and exits, wider aisles with directional signage, floor stickers, temperature checks for all guests entering the exhibit halls and enhanced cleaning protocols. These are just some of the extensive procedures put in place throughout.

“We are one of the only convention centers nationwide that is hosting large-scale conventions — safely and without incident,” said Nadia Vanderhoof, marketing and communications manager for the OCCC.

While holding events, the OCCC has also been serving as a Covid-19 testing site and, more recently, as a designated location for distributing vaccinations. The venue has made more than $200 million worth of upgrades and renovations in the meantime, including roof replacements, signage upgrades and more. A major focus of these efforts has been enhancing the OCCC’s sustainability, with projects such as HVAC upgrades, bringing in low-flow fixtures to the restrooms and adding gardens to key spots throughout the convention center. Despite the pandemic, visiting conventions and trade shows donated nearly $840,000 in funds and merchandise, and approximately 1.1 million pounds of goods to Orange County nonprofit organizations this fiscal year.

 

Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)

Atlanta
1.5 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: GWCC is open

Atlanta is open for groups, along with its Georgia World Congress Center. The first convention facility in the U.S. to achieve GBAC Star accreditation, the GWCC has made it a top priority to safely welcome back guests. The GBAC distinction is one part of the venue’s comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of visitors, following 21 specific requirements, from implementing staggered registration times to executing contactless operations for a reduced number of touchpoints.

Groups returning to the GWCC this year will find it transformed in ways unrelated to Covid-19 safety, as well. Last year, GWCC created more than 1 million square feet of continuous exhibition space by connecting Buildings B and C. GWCC has plans to welcome the new 1,000-room Signia by Hilton headquarters hotel (adjacent to Building C) in late 2023 or early 2024.

NRG Park

Houston
1.2 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: NRG Park is open

nrg-center-2
NRG Center is open for business

NRG Park is a 350-acre complex made up of four venues: NRG Stadium, NRG Arena, NRG Astrodome and a convention center, NRG Center. The convention center offers 59 meeting rooms; 706,000 square feet of contiguous, single-level exhibit space divisible into 11 halls; and two conference centers. Some 750 events usually take place on the NRG Park campus every year.

The facilities are participating in the Houston Clean Pledge program as well as the VenueShield program to ensure the safety of exhibitors and guests.

Anaheim Convention Center (ACC)

Anaheim, Calif.
1.2 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: ACC is closed until further notice

Anaheim Convention Center has been closed since March 2020, but is preparing to resume events once it is safe to do so and in accordance with state guidelines.

On Feb. 11, 2021, Comic-Con International announced that WonderCon Anaheim — scheduled to take place at ACC from March 26-27 — would instead be taking place virtually. The event usually draws 60,000 people to Anaheim, and has taken place at ACC every year since 2012, except of last year. At the moment, the convention center's calendar contains a number of in-person events scheduled as early as April 2021.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (ENMCC)

New Orleans
1.1 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: ENMCC is open

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is open for groups, following social-distancing guidelines laid out by the city, state and CDC.
The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is open for groups, following social-distancing guidelines laid out by the city, state and CDC.

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is open for groups, following social-distancing guidelines laid out by the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, as well as federally by the CDC. ENMCC provides extensive health and safety protocols, including social-distancing diagrams, and the convention center’s staff is prepared to work with each client to ensure the venue can be tailored to their group's needs.

ENMCC has embarked on a $557 million capital improvement plan, of which a brand-new transportation center and pedestrian park have already been completed. Further work on the ENMCC’s interior is underway and a master architect has been engaged for more substantial design changes. 

Sands Expo and Convention Center

Las Vegas
1 million square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: Sands Expo is closed until further notice

The Sands Expo and Convention Center is not currently open for groups, but has put extensive protocols in place for when they return. The Venetian Clean Guide to Meetings covers the layout of trade-show floors, touchless payment setups and new linen-cleaning practices in guest rooms, among other points. So that planners can better visualize the new approach, the property offers a video walkthrough of a trade show following the Venetian Clean protocols.

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Rosemont, Ill.
840,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center is open

The convention center is open and is following restrictions and prevention strategies laid out by the CDC and EPA. These steps include increasing the frequency of sanitation throughout the venue, installing hand-sanitization stations, increasing signage recommending hand washing and social distancing as well as training personnel on best practices for reducing the transmission of Covid-19.

George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston
753,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: George R. Brown Convention Center is open

The George R. Brown Convention Center recently launched "Avenida Houston Virtual Studio," a new, 5,250-square-foot studio designed specifically for virtual events and livestreaming conferences. Presenters and panelists can broadcast from the studio, with or without an in-person audience, and can integrate virtual presenters from anywhere into the program.

George R. Brown Convention Center is currently hosting events, including the Bridal Extravaganza Show in early January, which featured mandatory temperature checks and face masks. 

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

New York City

760,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: The Javits Center is closed until further notice

Hybrid Enhancements
Hybrid Enhancements
Learn about how some of the country's largest convention centers are enhancing their on-site offerings to better serve digital and hybrid events. Read more here.

In line with New York State’s gathering limits, the convention center is not currently open for groups, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening here. The venue on Manhattan's west side has been moving forward with its $1.5 billion expansion, which is adding 1.2 million square feet of event space, including a new glass-enclosed entrance on Eleventh Avenue, a rooftop pavilion and terrace, and an arrival area for trucks. For more information, take a look at the virtual tour here. The Javits Center also has created a new state-of-the-art broadcast studio to provide a turnkey solution for digital and hybrid events.

The Javits Center served as a temporary hospital as coronavirus cases were spiking last spring, and since Jan. 13 has been serving as a vaccine-distribution center. Once it again opens for groups, those entering the facility will find extensive safety measures in place, including hospital-grade air filters throughout, enhanced sanitation and cleaning practices, careful screening of all those entering the facility, and dozens of other protocols. These efforts have earned the venue GBAC Star accreditation.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD)

Dallas
724,536 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: KBHCCD is open

In September 2020, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas achieved GBAC STAR accreditation, recognizing the facility's commitment to cleaning, disinfecting and infectious-disease prevention planning. Dallas is currently conducting mass vaccinations in the city's historic Fair Park, and is considering using KBHCCD as a future vaccination site.

On Jan. 15, KBHCCD was to hold the Together Again Expo, which had originally been scheduled for October 2020. The event was once again postponed, this time indefinitely. KBHCCD is, however, open and accepting bookings.

Shops, restaurants and museums in Dallas are currently operating at 50 percent capacity, while bars, craft breweries and wineries are closed altogether.

In addition to the GBAC Star accreditation that the convention center has earned, both Dallas airports — Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International — have earned the designation, as have AT&T Stadium and American Airlines Center.

Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium (ICCLOS)

Indianapolis

749,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: ICCLOS is open

The Indiana Convention Center is currently operating at 25 percent capacity.
The Indiana Convention Center is currently operating at 25 percent capacity.

The Indiana Convention Center is currently operating at 25 percent capacity, and all visiting groups must comply with the social-distancing rules and safety standards laid out by state and local health departments. To ensure a safe experience for guests, ICCLOS has completed more than $7 million in upgrades since last summer. These include upgrading toilets and sinks with touchless technology, and installing elbow pulls on doors, hand-sanitizer stations, hospital-grade air filters, and plexiglass shields at all point-of-sale locations and information desks.

TCF Center

Detroit
723,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: TCF Center is open, with restrictions

The TCF Center, formerly the Cobo Center, is currently serving as a vaccine distribution center and previously was used as an alternate care facility for Detroit’s overwhelmed hospitals.
The TCF Center, formerly the Cobo Center, is currently serving as a vaccine distribution center and previously was used as an alternate care facility for Detroit’s overwhelmed hospitals.

On Feb. 18, the TCF Center, formerly the Cobo Center, hosted its first event since shutting down last March. About 1,000 athletes and spectators gathered at the venue for a statewide volleyball tournament organized by Michigan Elite Volleyball Academy. Coordinating with the City of Detroit's Department of Health and Safety, the event followed many safety practices, in line with ASM Global VenueShield requirements and GBAC Star Certification Standards.

The venue also is serving as a vaccine distribution center and previously was used as an alternate care facility for Detroit’s overwhelmed hospitals. 

Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC)

Los Angeles
720,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: LACC is closed until further notice

Since groups are restricted from meeting in the state of California, the LACC is open for film productions only. But the LACC does have a comprehensive health-safety plan in place to be ready to welcome groups back as soon as restrictions loosen. This includes earning GBAC Star accreditation and implementing VenueShield in all areas of cleaning and disinfection; the LACC's Blue Tower Program of staff training, targeted cleaning and more also has been launched. 

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Washington, D.C.
703,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: Walter E. Washington Convention Center is open

The capital city’s convention center is open for in-person events, following the district's current gathering restrictions. The first convention center in the northeast corridor to earn GBAC Star accreditation, the venue has put a wide range of cleaning protocols into practice, outlined in its “Back to Business” guide. These include enhanced sanitation, expanded F&B capabilities, thermal scanning, cutting-edge disinfection initiatives and more.

Walter E. Washington Convention Center has debuted the Studio 801 state-of-the-art hybrid-event broadcast room, which has been used for several hybrid events so far, leveraging Gather by Events DC's array of digital programming and livestream services. These include Mayor Muriel Bowser’s third annual Maternal and Infant Health Summit, the University of the District of Columbia’s Convocation, the RAMMY Awards Gala and PCMA’s capital chapter event.

The convention center was previously being used as a 437-bed alternate care facility, to help relieve some of the pressure on the district’s hospitals.

San Diego Convention Center (SDCC)

San Diego
615,700 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: SDCC is closed until further notice

Since April 2020, the San Diego Convention Center has been closed to groups and has helped to support essential city and county services, including serving as an emergency shelter and hosting a voting center for the presidential election. For these purposes and as it prepares to again welcome groups, SDCC’s cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention measures have been enhanced, earning the convention center GBAC STAR accreditation.

Facility management has also made a number of upgrades, including the installation of new carpeting across more than a quarter-million square feet of the building, the addition of gender-neutral restrooms, and the installation of high-definition, customizable digital signage in all lobbies.

Colorado Convention Center

Denver
584,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: CCC is closed until at least March 25, 2021

The Colorado Convention Center had been set up as a 2,200-bed hospital since April of last year, but it wasn't actually needed to treat patients. On Jan. 19, 2021, CCC was decommissioned as a hospital and on March 25 it will be turned back over to the city for use as a convention center.

Starting in mid-2021, CCC will begin an expansion project that will entail extensive renovations to the lobby, as well as the addition of an 80,000-square-foot, column-free multipurpose room with an outdoor rooftop terrace. When complete, that new venue will be the largest ballroom in Colorado.

America's Center

St. Louis
500,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: America's Center is open

America’s Center is currently open for groups, following strict safety protocols and provding new hybrid-event features such as its StreamStage studio.
America’s Center is currently open for groups, following strict safety protocols and provding new hybrid-event features such as its StreamStage studio.

America’s Center is currently open for groups, following strict safety protocols developed with regional public health officials and the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force. The team at America’s Center prepares an event plan for each group hosted there, covering prescreening, cleaning/disinfecting, food service and the responsibilities of the planner as well as the attendees. Plans are thoroughly reviewed and then signed off on by St. Louis city public health officials.

The venue's America's Ballroom recently hosted the international touring exhibit "Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition," which sold more than 15,000 tickets over the course of 37 event days. Extensive health and social-distancing protocols were in place, including infrared temperature screenings upon entry and mandatory use of face masks. Planners can now leverage the new StreamStage hybrid-event studio, which was used for a virtual press conference to kick off the exhibition. Groups are provided with a production manager for both on-site and digital audiences, as well as an HD camera, audio and streaming capabilities.

America’s Center is in the midst of an ambitious expansion and upgrade as part of its AC Next Gen project, set to be completed by 2023. In the works are an additional 65,000-square-foot multipurpose ballroom with adjacent 80,000-square-foot outdoor plaza, triple the number of loading docks and redesigned exhibit space.

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Columbus, Ohio
447,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: GCCC is open

columbus-convention-center
The Greater Columbus Convention Center is currently permitted to host up to 300 people for banquets, sports and performances.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center is able to host up to 300 people for banquets, sports and performances, following strict physical-distancing and mask requirements. The GCCC has also achieved GBAC Star accreditation, drawing on guidance from ASM's VenueShield program to develop its comprehensive cleaning, training and safety guide to direct the venue's operations moving forward. Planners can order customized masks, sanitizer dispensers, partitions and more through the convention center's PPE Resource Center.

While the GCCC completed a $140 million renovation just a couple years ago, this past year it has moved forward on a number of upgrades and additions of safety features. These include the completion of the Ohio Center Garage, addition of air sanitizers in elevators, 150 new sanitizer stations and more. Read the full list of recent updates here.

Moscone Center

San Francisco
559,100 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: Moscone Center is closed until further notice

Moscone Center has implemented ASM Global's VenueShield protocols, and in February it announced it had achieved GBAC Star certification, but it is not currently open to events. On Jan. 15, the mayor of San Francisco announced that the facility will be used as a vaccination site.

Restaurants in San Francisco are only providing takeout and delivery. The city is under a strict stay-at-home order; in public, people may only meet with one person with whom they do not live.

The Moscone Center expansion project, which debuted in 2018, added 170,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to the venue.

Music City Center (MCC)

Nashville
350,000 square feet of exhibition space

STATUS: MCC is open

Music City Center has taken several steps to enhance safety practices during the pandemic, including a commitment to achieve GBAC Star accreditation. MCC has added 101 hand-sanitizing stations and touch-free features in all restrooms and elevators. The convention center also has 128 GBAC-trained technicians on staff.

Since January 30, MCC has been used as a Covid vaccination site.