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On June 9, Emerald Coast County and tourism industry officials in Florida unveiled the expansive new Bayview Plaza with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception. This spacious outdoor venue addition to the Emerald Coast Convention Center adds 30,000 square feet of exhibition and event rental space to the facility.

“With this addition, we have a variety of events and tradeshows and other vendors that can come in here for space they can’t find anywhere else in northwest Florida,” said Ed Schroeder, executive director, Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.

ECN 062014_SE_Florida facility expands by 30,000 square feet_photo_KObeng (340x227)The large concrete pad is equipped with electricity and water and will provide additional space for events, such as cheerleading and volleyball competitions, tradeshows and exhibits, and various flexible event space for boat, automotive and RV shows. The area also can be tented in the case of rain.

“It can accommodate most anything,” said Bill Leaman, general manager, Emerald Coast Convention Center. “We have a boat show and an RV show scheduled for it already.”

The event showcased various ways visiting convention and group tourism clients – as well as local organizations – could activate the new outdoor space for special events. Attendees were treated to food, drinks, live music and other unique activations, including both a sand sculpture and detailed chalk drawing.

Additionally, the Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island, adjacent to the Emerald Coast Convention Center, was celebrated as Okaloosa County’s 14-acre park. The completed initial phase added boat trailer parking at the nearby Marler Park boat launch as well as an improved, safe nature walk surrounded by a bird sanctuary, pond and views of Choctawhatchee Bay. Future improvements will further enhance the park’s natural beauty and add to the outdoor experience with a handicapped accessible boardwalk along the bay, additional walking trails and a unique veterans’ memorial.

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