We have all witnessed the significant construction going on at ground level at the Colorado Convention Center, across from Sculpture Park. More excitement is happening high above the parking garage of the Convention Center. So, what’s being built? They are adding 135,000 additional square feet of convention space. This will add to the overall size of the Convention Center and continue to make it the largest convention facility in Colorado.
The planning for the expansion project surprisingly started many years ago. Back in 2005, the Convention Center underwent major renovation in the existing space. Since the footprint of the Convention Center could not be expanded any further, they planned for future expansions by installing high-capacity structural supports at that time. This would allow for future vertical expansions. In 2015, the residents of the City and County of Denver passed a measure that gave the go ahead for the current expansion that we see happening today.
I interviewed Rich Carollo, Director of Sales and Marketing for ASM Global, the management company in charge of all Convention Center bookings. In that interview, he said he was very excited about what the new expansion will bring by way of increased events and flexibility of offerings for attendees.
The expansion of the Convention Center will add an additional 135,000 square feet of space. There will be a Ballroom totaling 80,000 square feet and pre-function meeting and gather space of 35,000 square feet.
The most exciting addition will be a 20,000 square foot Outdoor Terrace space overlooking Metro Denver with the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop. The outdoor space will have food and beverage capabilities for attendees and also have firepits throughout the outdoor space. To quote Rich Carollo, “It’s going to be a special place!”. Many of us live in Denver to enjoy a close-up relationship with the mountains, and many convention goers come to Denver to get a taste of what we enjoy daily. The Outdoor Terrace will expose attendees to unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains.
The Colorado Convention Center averaged as many as 900,000 to 1,000,000 attendees per year before COVID. In 2022, that number is expected to be just above 600,000 attendees. That’s a significant reduction, and many of us who live close to the convention center have personally witnessed the reduced foot traffic since the pandemic started in spring 2020. An interesting note is that the actual number of events has stayed strong, it’s just the attendees per event is down. “Many people are slowly coming around to convention travel again”, Carollo said. The 2023 season for the Convention Center is here. Expectations are to have as many as 150 events, an increase over 2022. Mr. Carollo was happy to share that there are some very exciting events coming this year. He mentioned the very first “EBike Summit” in June and was really excited to share that the “Super Computing Show” was coming. The Super Computing Show is an international show and will occupy the entire Convention Center’s useable space. College professors will be building a Supercomputer as part of the exhibits.
It’s great to see the expansion project taking shape and to know the construction will be concluding this coming year. The completed expansion will be done in late 2023 with events starting in the new space in 2024. The Colorado Convention Center offers attendees many unique experiences. Rich Carollo noted that our city is very walkable, with many hotels, restaurants, shows, and sporting events are all within walking distance from the Convention Center. He noted that this is not the case in many other cities. The mountains are world class, and the expansion project has now taken advantage of the mountains by opening the event space to views that are grand, majestic, and awe inspiring. Who knows? Maybe someday UpDoNA can have a tour of the finished product, or a social event on the Outdoor Terrace!