When Meeting Professionals International brings its World Education Congress to St. Louis, Mo., in 2024, the timing should be right for the first tours of AC Next Gen, the America’s Center Convention Complex expansion.
The project kicked off on May 17, with a groundbreaking ceremony that included comments from Kitty Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis: “The last few years have been very challenging for the industry, and that makes today even more important: We are back and building something new that will benefit St. Louis and event planners for many years to come.”
In its first phase, the AC Next Gen project will add 72,000 square feet of exhibit space in Hall 4, with high windows to let in natural light (and black-out shades to make the room versatile). The project will also double the number of loading docks, add an entrance at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 9th Streets that includes networking lounges, and build a garden to supply produce to the convention center’s kitchen.
Existing hotel taxes will fund the $210 million expansion, America’s Center’s first update since 1995.
The convention complex currently includes 502,000 square feet of exhibit space, 80 meeting rooms, a 28,000-square-foot ballroom; the 1,400-seat Ferrara Theatre, and the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center.
A Grand Ballroom is expected in later phases of the AC Next Gen project. The column-free 61,000-square-foot space, with a 32-foot-high ceiling, will be supported by a 14,000-square-foot kitchen and a 20,000-square-foot lobby. Also in the plan is a 80,000-square-foot green plaza with a tiered amphitheater.