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Las Vegas Convention Center expansion planning underway

lvccAcquiring a small parcel and planning future expansion of the convention center won approval by the board of directors for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) during its Aug. 14 meeting.

The board unanimously approved paying a total of $380,000 to purchase a 0.3-acre parcel located at 3332 Swenson St. that will improve access to the convention center’s south hall annex. Some $350,000 of the sum is to pay the parcel’s seller for any remaining interests in the parcel plus another $30,000 to help cover incidental costs tied to the transaction. The property has been appraised at a much higher rate than the $380,000 the authority approved for its purchase.

Buying the parcel means the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) will control most of the land along Swenson St. from Sierra Vista Dr. to the south up to East Desert Inn Rd. to the north with a popular local convenience store being the only other business near the property. A public bus turn lane will be relocated nearer to the Desert Inn and Swenson intersection to give commercial vehicles better access to the South Hall annex of the LVCC.

“We’re cleaning everything out and making the area look better,” said Hugh Sinnock, director, LVCC. “It was just a lot where a guy parked cars. The cars were a variety all jammed in there, and they sat there forever.”

Although cleaning up the area adjacent to the South Hall is a primary goal, buying the parcel also means there will be more exhibition space at what already is one of the largest convention centers in the United States with 1.94 million square feet. Although no construction is planned on the lot, the addition allows for increased space for tradeshow trailers and parking near the South Hall annex.

“We’ve had requests for outdoor space for a couple shows and should have everything done by October or November,” Sinnock said. “We’ve already torn down three little buildings along Sierra Vista to make room for trailer storage and parking.”

While the acquisition of the small parcel has been approved, the actual sale is yet to occur. But development plans should be completed before winter arrives.

The LVCVA during its monthly meeting also unanimously approved spending up to $210,000 to hire HNTB Nevada Inc. to conduct a series of focus groups aimed at better understanding what customers of the LVCC would like and expect from future facility expansion. The LVCVA in 2005 approved and implemented an $890 million improvement of the facility and outlying “district,” but those plans were put on hold in 2008 due to a variety of reasons, including a slowed economy and changes in the business environment.

The new focus-group study would enhance those prior plans by assessing what current stakeholders – tradeshow organizers and meetings professionals – would need from an improved facility in order to continue drawing more events and tradeshows to Las Vegas, particularly in light of recent improvements at convention centers in other cities.

“The competition has grown immensely. This is about gathering customer research,” said Charles Bowling, board member, LVCVA.

In other business, the board approved spending up to $430,400 to cover the costs of featuring Las Vegas in an exhibit during the 2012 World Routes Development Forum Tradeshow in Abu Dhabi, UAE, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2. The event enables representatives of various cities and locales to meet with officials of various airlines and establish new airline routes capable of greatly enhancing local economies. The recent addition of the Copa Airlines routes to Las Vegas resulted in an estimated $332 million in additional non-gaming revenue for the city and surrounding communities, according to board members. Las Vegas is scheduled to host the 2013 World Routes Development tradeshow.

The board also approved spending up to $326,000 to attend the World Travel Market in London, England, in November and $188,000 to attend the International Association of Exhibitions and Events annual meeting and exposition in Orlando, Florida, from Dec. 3 through Dec. 6.

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