America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis passed a major hurdle this week in its effort to update and expand its facilities. The St. Louis City Council voted on April 16 to fund the AC Next Gen Project, which will add 92,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 65,000-square-foot multi-purpose ballroom and meeting area, a new outdoor pavilion, and 26 new loading docks, among other improvements. The construction timeline for the project has not been established.
The complex now hosts roughly 100 events each year, and supporters, including Kitty Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis, says the expansion is needed to draw more meetings and conventions to the city. “At present, America’s Center’s prominence and value to the region are threatened because its amenities have not kept pace,” Ratcliffe said in a release. “What we’ve seen in the last decade is that major cities in St. Louis’ competitive landscape have either built a new facility, like Nashville with a $623 million new convention center, or have made major improvements, like San Antonio, which spent $325 million on building enhancements.” The project, estimated at $175 million, will be funded by hotel taxes that are already in place.
The convention complex currently includes the Cervantes Convention Center, St. Louis Executive Conference Center, the 67,000-seat Dome at America’s Center, and the 1,400-seat Ferrara Theatre. These include 502,000 square feet of exhibit space, 80 meeting rooms, and a 28,000-square-foot ballroom.