Memo: Consulting firm says COVID-19 shouldn’t affect future convention center expansion

Austin
Austin Convention Center (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

Austin Convention Center (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a memo to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and city council members, Austin Convention Center officials say COVID-19 will not interfere with its expansion efforts.

The convention’s consulting firm, HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities Consulting, said it doesn’t see the COVID-19 pandemic as an issue to convention center expansion since it’s expected to be contained by the time the convention center resumes normal operations.

HVS also said it doesn’t anticipate any long-term changes in the demand for the convention center.

The memo said ACC, like most convention centers in the country, has ceased normal operations due to the pandemic. Currently, part of the convention center is being used to house a field hospital in case area hospitals go over capacity with COVID-19 patients. Area health officials have yet to use any of the field hospital space for patients in the convention center.

Currently, the convention center has more than 365,000 square-feet of usable space for conventions and events, and three phases of expansion would take it over 900,000 square-feet of space, the memo says. The convention center averaged between 95-115 events per year since 2015, and with the expansion, HVS says the load can increase to around 215 events and 350,000 event attendees per year.

Funding for the expansion was previously secured through an increase in the city’s Hotel Occupancy tax.

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