Small Market Meetings

JAN 2017

The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.

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D o u b l e T r e e b y H i l t o n E v a n s v i l l e E v a n s v i l l e , I n d i a n a M a y o C i v i c C e n t e r R o c h e s t e r , M i n n e s o t a 22 Heartland Meeting Guide Now Playing in the Heartland Courtesy Evansville CVB A new hotel will connect two of Evansville's premier meeting venues. Many cities are investing millions to expand and reno- vate their existing convention centers, or building new event centers and constructing new conference hotels to either stay competitive or get back in the game. Here's a look at some of the new and renovated meet- ing facilities in America's Heartland. DoubleTree by Hilton Evansville Evansville, Indiana When the Executive Inn in downtown Evansville, Indiana, closed in 2009, the city's conference and con- vention market "just dried up," said Laura Libs, director of marketing for the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We have a terrific convention facility; we just haven't had a hotel to accompany it for several years," she said. That will change when the new 241-room DoubleTree by Hilton Evansville opens in January with sky bridges that connect to both the 11,000-seat Ford Arena and the adjacent 280,000-square-foot Old National Events Plaza (ONEP), where planners will find a 38,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 14,000 square feet of ballroom space, a dozen flexible 1,000-square-foot meeting rooms and a 2,500-seat auditorium. The hotel will also provide its own 12,000 square feet of meeting and function space, including a 6,400-square- F a c i l i t i e s are the name of the game in the meetings world, and the newest and nicest ven- ues with the lat- est and greatest features often win the busi- ness. foot ballroom, about 4,000 square feet of prefunction space and two breakout rooms. The new property is already boosting Evansville's meetings business, with organizations such as the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns expressing interest in bringing its regional conference to the city. Groups are "very excited about having the hotel downtown," said hotel general manager Tracy Wiley. Other than the Tropicana and Le Merigot hotels, both of which sit on the Ohio Riverfront several blocks from the convention center, the city hasn't had a downtown convention hotel "for a long time." "Whether they're having an event at ONEP or having a meeting with us, they're very excited," he said. Mayo Civic Center Rochester, Minnesota Construction on the Mayo Civic Center expansion wrapped up in late December, and officials are getting the new space ready for its first event in early April. Rochester, Minnesota, "really didn't have a conven- tion center, if you will," said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau. "What we did have was a multipurpose civic center; this takes us to the next level in terms of con- By Rachel Carter

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