Channel 9 gets exclusive look at Charlotte Convention Center expansion plan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Channel 9’s Scott Wickersham received an exclusive look at the expansion and upgrades planned for the Charlotte Convention Center that could cost tens of millions of dollars.

Final presentation on CLT convention center expansion

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said while the center is still functional, the 21-year old facility needs upgrades to compete with other cities.

CRVA CEO Tom Murray said a recent study of Charlotte’s tourism needs showed the city is lacking hotel rooms, and the convention center needs more space for meetings.

“We have exhibit halls below, breakout space above,” Murray said. “Our goal is to double that space and make existing space more flexible, and actually building new space.”

Some enhancements include creating an additional 26,000 square feet in meeting space with up to 15 more meeting rooms. A pedestrian connection would connect to the light rail, dining and retail.  And the Ballroom Terrace Expansion would enclose the outdoor space to create a light-filled atrium that could be used for events.

The money would come from the Convention Center fund. Its money collected from a tax on tourism and earmarked for the CRVA. But it must have City Council approval before it’s used.

People using the Convention Center said they don’t see a problem with investing in it.

“We need to start competing with places like Chicago and New York.  The only way is to set up that infrastructure,” one Charlotte resident told Channel 9.

It has been a challenging time for Charlotte tourism.

The controversial bathroom law, House Bill 2, led to canceled concerts and the NBA pulling the All-Star Game.

But Murray said those headlines don’t reflect the booming tourism industry here.

“We need to keep in perspective these small pieces of business don’t make up the whole demand in the market.  The market demand is huge.”

The CRVA is presenting plans to City Council during Monday night’s meeting.  Check back here for updates.