The Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association announced April 9 that almost 50 percent of conventions it booked in 2001 were because of the Minneapolis Convention Center expansion, which opened this month. The GMCVA also announced it had exceeded its 2001 room-night booking goal 33 percent, totaling 527,246 future room-night commitments.
More than 100,000 of those nights came from a recent commitment by the Lions Club International, which just booked the Convention Center for its 2009 convention. The Lions' 20,000 members are expected to stay in Minneapolis for nearly a week. The GMCVA estimates that the Lions will spend $18 million in the region during their stay. The expanded convention center will allow LCI to conduct their entire convention in one building rather than spreading it out between sites.
Beth Lankey, a GMCVA spokesperson, explained how the organization tied bookings to a bigger convention center. If the convention center had not added the new fourth section, Lankey said, "groups that wanted to come in on specific dates would not have been able to do so because we already had things booked for those times. With the expansion we can move groups in and out at the same time so we're not so limited with the dates that we can book. Some of these groups are very large and the center couldn't accommodate them in the past."