The Convention Center’s 2020 expansion aims to keep Las Vegas competitive

The $860 million project is set for the site of the former Riviera.
Rendering Courtesy

The convention industry accounts for 15.7 percent of the annual visitors to Las Vegas. That figure will surely increase in 2020 when the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion is complete.

The $860 million project, to be built on the site of the former Riviera, is anticipated to significantly augment Las Vegas’ convention calendar. Nine of the top 20 conventions in the U.S. took place at the convention center, according to Trade Show News Network.

The original facility was built in 1959 and has gone through various upgrades. The current project includes 600,000 square feet of new exhibition space.

“While we’ve expanded and renovated over the years, this will be the most impactful construction project yet and will give us a facility that is as vibrant and iconic as the city itself,” says Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of operations for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The expansion was necessary to remain the top destination for hosting a convention, because competing cities are attempting to lure away some of those events, Jicinsky says. “By moving forward with the expansion and renovation, we’ll allow the large shows currently coming to the destination to grow, and we’ll allow shows that aren’t currently in the destination but would like to be, an opportunity to come to Las Vegas.”

The convention industry accounted for $5.78 billion in direct economic output and $1.77 billion in wages in 2017, with more than 40,000 people employed in the industry, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The Las Vegas Convention Center hosted 50 conventions last year, drawing 1.4 million visitors. To accommodate those attendees and exhibitors, the convention center directly employed 8,644 people, accounting for $375.2 million in direct wages.

“The Las Vegas Convention Center District project is key to sustaining Southern Nevada’s economy,” Jicinsky says. “The overall impact on Las Vegas will be substantial, and it will allow our entire city to continue to grow and welcome more visitors year after year.”

Before the expansion was approved, the LVCVA identified about 70 additional events that could be lured to Las Vegas in the next decade. Those shows could increase the industry’s economic impact to $12.4 billion annually, according to LVCVA data.

The expansion will bring 610,000 new convention attendees per year and an additional 7,800 additional full-time jobs, according to the LVCVA, which noted the renovation’s full impact won’t be seen until 2023, when existing halls of the convention center are upgraded.

The project is being paid for by the slight room-tax increase also used to fund the $750 million in public contributions for the Las Vegas Stadium, also due in 2020.

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