Stella Awards 2022: Best Convention Center

NORTHEAST

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Atlantic City Convention Center

The statistics are impressive at the Atlantic City Convention Center in New Jersey. Planners and attendees will find more than 17,500 first-class hotel rooms, 2.2 million square feet of meeting space citywide and 486,600 contiguous square feet of exhibit space. The center occupies a site of 31 acres, making it one of the East Coast’s largest convention facilities. Much of the action takes place in five spacious exhibit halls on the building’s second level, ranging in size from 29,400 to 199,500 square feet.

There’s more: Approximately 45 meeting rooms surround the expansive atrium lobby with a total of 109,100 square feet. Prefunction space totals 32,000 square feet. Room dimensions range from 672 to 11,880 square feet. Amenities include soundproof panels, assisted-listening systems, video and data-communications capabilities, not to mention 29 covered loading docks and a pedestrian air bridge linking the center to the adjoining Sheraton Hotel. The center is certified LEED Gold and works hard to conserve and reuse natural resources.


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Albany Capital Center

In New York State’s capital city, the Albany Capital Center provides 22,500 square feet of ballroom/exhibit space, eight meeting rooms spanning 9,200 square feet, state-of-the-art technology and varied dining options, all able to accommodate up to 5,000 people. The ACC is part of the Capitol Complex, connected to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, The Egg Performing Arts Center and the MVP Arena via an enclosed walkway, comprising total meeting space of more than 159,000 square feet. The center also has been awarded the GBAC Star accreditation, the only disease-outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation in the facilities industry.


SOUTHEAST

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Orange County Convention Center

With its 7,000,000 square feet of total space and 2,100,000 square feet of exhibition space, including two 92,000-square-foot general assembly areas, the Orange County Convention Center hosts more than 200 events each year with more than 1.4 million attendees. The award-winning facility, in the heart of Central Florida and just 15 minutes outside Orlando International Airport, provides a multitude of event options in its West and North/South buildings.
 
The center is consistently rated a top-tier center with spaces such as the remodeled multipurpose 48,600-square-foot Tangerine Ballroom, a 2,643-seat theater, a 200-seat lecture hall and a total of 74 meeting rooms. On-site are three full-service restaurants and eight food courts. In 2021, the OCCC was the first center globally to receive the GBAC Star accreditation in recognition of its measures on outbreak prevention and recovery, the gold standard of safe venues. 


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Miami Beach Convention Center

A 1.4 million square foot Silver LEED-certified convention center in the heart of Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) is adjacent to the historic Art Deco District, spectacular beaches, inspiring art and culture, luxurious resorts and iconic Lincoln Road. Following an extensive three-year, $620 million renovation, the facility offers a slate of new amenities, the highest of high-tech capabilities and new event spaces, plus some 10 acres of green space, a curated art collection worth over $7.1 million and much more.

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Georgia International Convention Center

Minutes away from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport via the ATL Skytrain, the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) has a host of features to please any planner. The facility has 400,000 total square feet of space, 150,000 of them for exhibits, plus 16,000 square feet of meeting space, Georgia’s largest ballroom at 40,000 square feet, an award-winning in-house catering team and GBAC Star accreditation for bio-risk safety. There are more than 8,000 hotel rooms in the vicinity.  


MIDWEST

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America’s Center

With a total of 502,000 square feet of exhibit space, the America’s Center Convention Complex is home to four distinct meeting facilities under one roof: The Cervantes Convention Center, the 67,000-seat Dome of America’s Center, the St. Louis Executive Conference Center, the 1,400-seat Ferrara Theater and a 28,000-square-foot ballroom. In addition, the facility features five exhibit halls, a ballroom and more than 80 versatile meeting rooms.
 
Located in the heart of St. Louis, the center is GBAC Star accredited for its commitment to ensuring a clean, safe and healthy environ for employees, customers and stakeholders, with features such as state-of-the-art touch-free entry doors, bathroom fixtures and hand-sanitizer stations to reduce contact. The staff works closely with event organizers to create experience plans that meet or exceed all CDC guidelines with intent of reducing the spread of infectious disease.


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Wisconsin Center District

The bustling meetings and events destination known as the Wisconsin Center District is actually three venues, the center itself, the 12,700-person-capacity UWM Panther Arena and the 4,087-seat Miller Highlife Theatre. Spanning more than 220,000 square feet, the center includes the 37,506-square-foot Grand Ballroom, which can stage a banquet for up to 2,100 and a reception for up to 3,756, and 28 meeting rooms. The center currently is undergoing an ambitious $456 million expansion that will more than double the current exhibit space upon completion early in 2024.


SOUTHWEST

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Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas

In between Dallas and Fort Worth, the 275,000-square-foot Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas has done more than lift the area’s profile as a meetings destination — it has spurred development of a colorful entertainment district enjoyed by attendees year-round. On 40 acres in the heart of Irving’s Las Colinas Urban Center, the facility has almost 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space and has garnered LEDD Silver certification for its Earth-friendly green practices.

With its copper-clad skin and high-end finishes, the ICC is as functional as it is aesthetically appealing. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer scenic vistas, and a stacked layout enables concurrent events to have distinct spaces. For big groups, the vertical design translates to efficient flow between sessions. Ample networking areas allow delegates to collaborate comfortably. And when it comes to dining, the center’s in-house menu rivals that of a five-star hotel.


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Colorado Convention Center

With its spectacular views of Denver and the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Convention Center is a popular meeting place within walking distance of more than 12,000 hotel rooms and Denver’s compact, vibrant downtown. The center has nearly 600,000 square feet of exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting room space and two ballrooms at 35,000 and 50,000 square feet, respectively. And expansion due for completion in December 2023 will make the place even more appealing for planners. 

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Austin Convention Center

The Austin Convention Center covers six blocks in the heart of the city’s downtown business district. Features include five contiguous exhibit halls with 247,052 square feet of column free space, 54 meeting rooms and seven ballrooms, ranging in sizes from cozy and intimate to one of the largest in Texas at 40,510 square feet. More than 20 artists’ collections are showcased at the center, which works with area vendors to procure local ingredients for catering menus. The facility is certified LEED Gold and GBAC Star, for its green and clean practices, respectively.


FAR WEST

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The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center

One of the first centers in the country to adopt a residential-style environment with in-house furnishings, theatrical lighting and a fully integrated hybrid events platform, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in California is indeed a distinctive place to gather. Set on a bustling downtown waterfront, the center’s indoor and outdoor venues offer a suite of cost-saving in-house assets, including rigging, theatrical lighting, LED game tables, contemporary furnishings and other key components.
 
The facility has more than 400,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. Three exhibition halls with 224,000 square feet of contiguous space can be utilized for all types of conventions, trade shows, consumer shows and special events. The space divides into three separate exhibit halls to accommodate a variety of events. In addition, 34 total meeting rooms include three ballrooms, and the beautiful outdoor Terrace Plaza is perfect for special events with pizzazz. 


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Reno-Sparks Convention Center

Visit Reno Tahoe recently reclaimed operations of the 600,000-square-foot Reno-Sparks Convention Center. The CVB-owned facility is fully adaptable, with room for more than 2,100 exhibition booths, all on one level, featuring state-of-the-art wireless internet servicing up to 25,000 simultaneous users. The recently renovated facility is conveniently located just south of Downtown Reno, has more than 2,500 first-class hotel rooms within five blocks and is just 10 minutes from Reno-Tahoe International Airport. 


INTERNATIONAL AND U.S. TERRITORIES

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DISTRITO T-Mobile

In developing DISTRITO T-Mobile, PRISA Group focused on creating a space with a multisensory experience true to Puerto Rico, with the aim of bringing near-constant activity to the area complementing the Puerto Rico Convention Center as well as the city of San Juan. The facility was designed to create authentic, innovative and ultimately memorable experiences highlighting the best of Puerto Rican culture. To that end, the 476,691-square-foot complex features Coca-Cola Music Hall, a multi-use performance hall for 5,000 people, the Aloft San Juan Hotel, Caribbean Cinemas VIP Theaters, Toroverde UrbanPark, and 11 unique food and beverage concepts.
 
The crown jewel of the complex is Popular Plaza, a hub connecting hospitality, entertainment and gastronomic offerings. Inspired by Times Square, the Plaza showcases 360-degree interactive content on the largest 4K horizontal LED screen in the Americas, but this Plaza also hosts meetings and recently even hosted a group of more than 700 planners to network and learn from each other. It’s clearly the dawn of a new day for the event industry in Puerto Rico.