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Civic Board Approves Financing for Expansion of America’s Center Convention Complex in Downtown St. Louis

The expansion of America’s Center Convention Complex will include a new outdoor pavilion. (Image courtesy of Explore St. Louis)

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Municipal Finance Corp. has approved the financing package for the expansion of America’s Center Convention Complex. The 502,000-square-foot events facility is located at 701 Convention Plaza in downtown St. Louis.

The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County have each committed $105 million in bond financing to complete the expansion, which is branded the AC Next Gen Project. The city and county approved the project in April 2019.

The expansion will add 92,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 65,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting area, 22,000 square feet of new support space, 26 new loading docks, the renovation of 12 existing docks, an outdoor pavilion and refurbishment of the Washington Avenue entrance.

The expansion will add 92,000 square feet of exhibit space to America’s Center Convention Complex. (Image courtesy of Explore St. Louis)

“Expansion of America’s Center is an investment in the future of our region, assuring dependable jobs for working families in these challenging times and demonstrating our commitment to businesses and workers is certain,” says Comptroller Darlene Green, the chief fiscal officer for the City of St. Louis. “COVID-19 is not going away soon, but we know as a nation we will overcome it. Businesses will rebound, and tourism jobs and conventions will come back. We must plan for a positive future for the working families in our region, and America’s Center is part of that future.”

America’s Center Convention Complex comprises four facilities: the Cervantes Convention Center, The Dome at America’s Center (former home of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams), the St. Louis Executive Conference Center and the Ferrara Theatre. The property is situated a few blocks west of the Mississippi River and the city’s famous Gateway Arch, as well as two blocks from the Convention Center stop on St. Louis’ MetroLink light rail system.

No timeline was disclosed for completion of the expansion.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s Center hosted roughly 100 events annually, with more than 600,000 attendees and 300,000 hotel room nights generating $265 million of new direct economic spending for the community, according to Johnson Consulting. The facility also provided more than 3,300 full-time jobs for residents across the St. Louis metro area.

Explore St. Louis operates the facility and is the tourism marketing organization for both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The St. Louis Municipal Finance Corp. is responsible for issuing and refinancing the City of St. Louis’ debt and aims to improve the city’s long-term credit rating. The five-member board comprises members appointed by Green, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Lewis Reed, president of the city’s Board of Aldermen.

The meeting to determine the financing package for America’s Center was delayed by four months due to complications from COVID-19, according to local media reports.

— John Nelson

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