Convention center changes take shape in Phoenix - East Valley Tribune: Business

Convention center changes take shape in Phoenix

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Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2006 6:30 am | Updated: 3:16 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Starbucks is now open in the Phoenix Convention Center’s new west building — a major milestone for caffeinated meeting goers and the staff of the evolving project.

The first few meetings in the first phase of the $600 million makeover of the old Civic Plaza had to make do with unbranded brews from the facility’s own kitchens.

The demolition crew is now clearing the site for construction of the second and largest building, scheduled to be completed in late 2008, said Scott Sumners, the center’s deputy director.

Sumners gave hoteliers and other tourism industry leaders an update Wednesday on the project’s progress during a Valley Hotel & Resort Association meeting at the Wyndham Phoenix.

An archaeology crew combs through rubble and dirt when the demolition workers clear an area, he said.

“They are finding lots of stuff, which makes us all a little nervous,” Sumners said.

The final structure, triple the size of Civic Plaza, will be the 19th or 20th biggest meeting facility in the country, Sumners said. That’s up from 69th place for the Civic Plaza, he said.

Several conventions much too large for the old facility have already signed on for 2009, Sumners said.

While a new 1,000 room hotel also is under construction in downtown Phoenix to handle the expected onslaught of meeting goers, the whole Valley will benefit from the expansion, said Doug MacKenzie, spokesman for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We will see significant direct spending throughout the Valley as people explore the region,” he said. “Hotels will be filled.”

Recent major bookings

2009 and beyond. Group, number of convention delegates:

• Mary Kay Cosmetics, 4,000

• International Reading Association, 10,000

• American Dental Education Association, 2,700

• American Animal Hospital Association, 3,000

• National Rifle Association, 45,000

• Veterans of Foreign Wars, 10,000

• U.S. Green Building Council, 3,300

• National Association of Secondary School Principals, 6,000

• Assemblies of God, 12,000

• American Correctional Association, 5,700

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