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Austin: dynamic city is expanding convention package.

The city of Austin and all those association executives who love to meet in the Texas capital are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Austin Convention Center expansion this spring. The center is doubling in size after opening only nine years ago, due in large part to its national reputation as an outstanding exposition facility packed with high-tech features.

The expanded downtown center will offer 246,097 square feet of column-free exhibit space that can be divided into five separate halls. One of the exhibit halls will feature retractable risers that seat 1,800 for many general sessions, sporting events, and concerts.

The $110 million expansion also adds a second ballroom. The new upper level grand ballroom will be the largest in Texas, with 43,300 square feet--enough for 3,240 people to dine in style. New breakout rooms will bring the total to 47 offering 54,730 square feet.

Already one of the most technology-capable convention centers in the United States, the Austin Convention Center also is upgrading its communication infrastructure with CAT 6 UTP wire capable of moving data at up to 1 billion bits per second. Also part of the techno-upgrade is a new DS3 data circuit and installation of four strains of multimode fiber in all exhibit floor boxes and meeting rooms.

Complementing the newly expanded center will be a new convention headquarters hotel. The 803-room Hilton Austin, set to open in early 2004, will be located across from the center expansion on a city block bounded by Red River, Neches, Fourth, and Fifth streets. Also opening soon is the city's new civic center, the Lester E. Palmer Events Center. The $48 million facility will offer a 70,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall and 5,000 square feet of meeting rooms.

"Austin is one of the most dynamic cities in the country," says Robert M. Lander, president and CEO of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We have a convention center that's doubling in size, a new convention center hotel underway, the Palmer Events Center, and an incredible new airport. The city has recognized the importance of tourism by investing heavily in the infrastructure to support tourism."

All great convention cities need outstanding air service to deliver meeting participants, and Austin took a big step in that direction when it opened the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in mid-1999. The airport opened with 25 gates, but has the capacity to operate a total of 55. The airport, only eight miles from downtown Austin, provides nonstop service to more than 30 major cities in North America.

After meetings conclude for the day, convention-goers can revel in a town that calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World. With 100-plus live music venues in a compact area, music is everywhere in Austin.
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Title Annotation:Austin Convention Center
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
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