The Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the city’s tourism executives plan to expand Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center to become more competitive. Expected to cost up to $250 million, the expansion project would bring more convention center business to Dallas.
Expanding Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center would enable it to compete against cities such as New Orleans, San Diego and Atlanta, according to Phillip Jones, president and CEO, Dallas CVB.
“If we like being one of the top convention destinations in the country once again … then we have to continue to invest in our facilities to be competitive,” said Jones.
Plans include adding a 60,000 square-foot ballroom and exhibit hall space, and additional meeting spaces to the front of the convention center near ballroom C or south of the facility. Last expanded in 1994, the project would bring the space up to 1.15 million square feet.
Other key improvements included adding Omni Dallas Hotel as its convention center hotel and restaurants in walkable distance.
To fund the expansion project, the Dallas CVB hopes the city would increase hotel occupancy taxes by 2 percent to finance the build that, in turn, would help generate more taxes for the city. The incremental tax, to total 17 percent, would need to be placed on the city’s November 2015 ballot initiative for a public vote.
“We are at the point now the convention center is in need of expansion if we want to grow,” Jones insisted. “Right now, we are not in the position to book a dozen large citywide groups unless we make the expansion.”
If the project moves forward, CVB officials expect an output of $494 million, an increase of $70 million from 2012. Without the expansion, officials estimate a loss of approximately $171 million.
According to Jones, a projected economic impact of $6.6 billion is needed to transform Dallas into a top travel and meeting destination.
“This isn’t just about the convention center, but bringing in more meetings and sporting events,” he said. “This will help us go after the business we have targeted for high-yield growth — such as health care and technology meetings, which we can’t go after as aggressively as we’d like because we don’t have the meeting space they need.”
HKS is the project architect on the possible expansion.