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Amarillo.

The Lone Star State started off 2004 with a bang by hosting Super Bowl XXXVIII at Houston's Reliant Stadium. The Texassized celebration ushered in a year that's sure to be memorable throughout the state.

Two massive hotels already have opened this year, and they are certain to be big hits with association meeting planners. The 804-room Hilton Austin opened in January with 60,000 square feet of meeting space. It will serve as the headquarters hotel for the recently expanded Austin Convention Center.

April's opening of the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Lake Grapevine will surely put Grapevine squarely on the major meetings map. The resort boasts 1,511 guest rooms and its own convention complex with a 176,400-square-foot exhibit hall and ballrooms of 49,500 and 32,200 square feet.

April also was a big month for Galveston Island as one new conference facility opened while another completed a major expansion. The $30 million Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort opened with a 43,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 15,500-square-foot ballroom. The Moody Gardens Convention Center completed an expansion that enlarged its exhibit hall to 60,000 square feet. The Moody Gardens Hotel also added 125 guest rooms in December to bring its total to 428 rooms.

The Big D's meetings package also is set to get bigger with DFW International Airport's $2.6 billion capital development plan. Opening in the first quarter of 2005 is the development plan's crown jewel--the new International Terminal D, a 1.8 million-square-foot facility that will add 23 gates. DFW International also will get a new 298-room Grand Hyatt Hotel in January.

Of course, 2003 was a big year for Houston, with the fall opening of the George R. Brown Convention Center expansion and adjacent 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel.

EXPANDED CENTER, NEW HOTELS

Amarillo's newly expanded civic center appears to be having a beneficial effect on the city's hotel community, as evidenced by a flurry of new hotel developments. City officials report that nine separate hotels have opened recently or are under development throughout the city, including the 89-room Courtyard by Marriott that opened in January with 580 square feet of meeting space. Other hotel projects generally are in the 60-90 range for guest rooms, and many are suites hotels.

Another big project on the horizon for Amarillo is the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. Scheduled for completion in fall 2005, the downtown, 1,200-seat venue will be home to professional ballet, opera, and symphony companies as well as hosting concerts and other special events.

The $11.4 million expansion and upgrade of the Amarillo Civic Center debuted last year. Key additions to the downtown center are a 24,500-square-foot exhibit hall and a 20,700-square-foot ballroom that can be converted into 20 breakout rooms. Overall, the 70,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit, and banquet space added by the expansion brings the civic center's total to nearly 340,000 square feet.

As part of the expansion, the building's east and south concourse areas were doubled in size, and a box office was added to support events at the adjacent 6,670-seat Cal Farley Coliseum. A covered patio, a partially covered outdoor exhibit area adjacent to the South Exhibit Hall, and two catering kitchens were added as well. The center's South Exhibit Hall also was upgraded with a new floor, new floor boxes with electrical and fiber-optic cable, and updated wall treatments.

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Title Annotation:Texas
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:581
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