by Ray Smith
Officials with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) presented an update Tuesday, September 13, on plans for the $600 million third phase of renovation at the Las Vegas Convention Center, plus $20 million for renovation of administrative offices and the board room.
The project was previously approved in August for $740 million, but the management team was able find opportunities and alternative solutions to reduce the cost.
Construction manager Terry Miller gave an overview of the project at Tuesday’s board meeting, along with a budget status update, noting that overall costs were $14 million greater than the hard cost. The difference is still within 3 percent of the estimated budget, and the project has $57 million in contingency funds, he added.
Steve Hill, president and chief executive officer of LVCVA, says he’s “optimistic” about the project coming in 10 percent below budget, but some costs are yet to be included in the budget.
The new offices and board room, to be built in the east end of the South Hall, will take away 60,000 square feet of existing exhibit space, plus 21,000 square feet for a new main lobby.
Significant modifications and enhancements to the South Hall have been deferred to focus on spending approved funds in areas that provide the “greatest opportunity to positively impact the customer experience,” Miller said in his presentation.
Miller’s project team developed four primary sequences for the renovation: 1) enhancements to back-of-house systems and new lobby at the east end of South Hall; 2) major additions and modifications to the front of the convention center including North Hall connector, new main lobby and Central Hall to South Hall connector; 3) enhancements to exhibit halls, concourses, restrooms and meeting rooms; and 4) enhancements to parking lots and site security.
In another presentation to the board, Kevin Bagger, vice president of research, reported that year-to-date convention attendance is nearly double from a year ago, but still down 31 percent from 2019, which is to be expected.
July convention attendance was 307,100, up 95.1 percent from the same month a year ago, but down 38.4 percent from pre-COVID July 2019. The convention attendance index stood at 69 in July, based on the 2019 benchmark index of 100, compared with 33 in 2021.
“It’s taking longer to ramp up, but we continue to see positive things in 2022,” Bagger said. One of them is the return of SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) in November. Overall, the convention authority booked 87 tradeshows for 2022, he noted.
Other tourism metrics, including international visitors, are recovering as Las Vegas emerges from the pandemic. Among lingering concerns are rising costs for food and beverage service, hotel rates and venues.