Building on Success:
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Celebrates 25 Years
November 4, 2010- Located along the Mississippi River, within walking distance of the French Quarter, fine dining, attractions and 20,000 first-class hotel rooms, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the nation’s sixth largest convention center, has been a favorite destination for national tradeshows and meetings for 25 years.
Since its opening in 1985, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has captured a sizable share of the convention market nationwide with its operations impacting every segment of the local tourism market – including hotel bookings, dining, transportation, shopping, entertainment, local tours and cruises. As of 2009, the Convention Center supported 23,989 local jobs throughout the New Orleans area.
The Convention Center’s riverfront location and brisk business also helped spur the Warehouse Arts District’s revitalization—dramatically transforming it from unoccupied warehouses to one flourishing with fine dining establishments, hotels, art galleries, commercial and residential development.
Originally called the New Orleans Convention Center (later renamed the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 1992 for the late New Orleans mayor who championed its construction), the Center has hosted more than 1,977 major events that brought 12.1 million delegates to the New Orleans area. From 1985 through 2009, activities at the Convention Center produced a total economic impact of $48.1 billion.
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was designed to capitalize on the spiraling pace of the exposition market in the Crescent City, and in doing so, bolster the booming local tourism industry. Its conceptual development began in 1978 when the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, the governing body of the proposed convention center, was formed to bring about construction of the facility. The Authority's exclusive mission is to spur economic development by hosting tradeshows and conventions that attract out-of-state visitors to the area. The Convention Center is managed by New Orleans Public Facility Management Inc., a not-for-profit organization operating under the auspices of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (Authority), a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana. Its conceptual development began in 1978 when the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, the governing body of the proposed convention center, was formed to bring about construction of the facility.
The first use of the New Orleans Convention Center was as the Great Hall for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, also known as the World's Fair. The Center welcomed its first tradeshow, Helicopter Association International on January 13, 1985. A total of 28 events were held at the Center that first year, a figure that easily exceeded the most promising predictions. From that point on, the Convention Center’s successes soared steadily as it gained a world-class reputation in the tradeshow industry.
Strong growth in conventions and tradeshows triggered a second expansion in 1991. As “Phase II” opened, efforts were underway to accomplish a third expansion to meet rapidly rising customer demand.
Completed in 1999, the “Phase III” expansion grew the Center to 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space, making it the 6th largest convention facility in the nation and solidifying the Center's competitive position in the marketplace.
The Convention Center Today
Following a well-received response to a $62 million dollar makeover in 2006, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center recently completed $19.1 million in upgrades to the revered facility. The Convention Center’s iconic orange stripe was repainted a deep blue hue, which along with extensive landscaping enhancements gives the Convention Center a vibrant and welcoming look.
Comfortable furniture groupings and new digital, flat panel audio/video information systems have been strategically placed throughout the main lobby and meeting room levels and in pre-function areas where attendees gather to network or relax. The Convention Center has also re-purposed pay phone bays into “I-Cove” stations where attendees can connect their laptops to the internet and/or re-charge electronic devices.
The newly installed 10-gigabyte internet backbone provides meeting planners with unlimited technological opportunities to extend programming to attendees and exhibitors. Among other improvements, the Convention Center opened two executive cyber lounges and installed card-key systems to all 140 meeting rooms. The Center’s two ballrooms, both in excess of 30,000 square feet, have been recently remodeled with a more contemporary look to complement the new lobby color scheme.
In 2008, the Convention Center implemented the “SPICE” customer service program, which stands for “Serving with Professionalism, Individuality, Courtesy and Excellence.” The purpose of the program is to motivate and inspire employees to embrace the Convention Center’s mission of exceptional service and apply it in every customer interaction to exceed expectations. Employees from every level of the organization collaborated to develop ten Customer Service Standards that are the guiding philosophy of the program, which are reinforced daily.
In 2009, the Center debuted a 26-acre festival venue, located on Henderson Street at the end of Convention Center Blvd, adjacent to Hall J. The plan brings event activity to the property that is the location of Center’s planned Phase IV expansion, on hold until the demand returns for further development. The venue, dubbed “Festival Park” after one of the 1984 World’s Fair villages, has all the elements that are important to stage successful festivals: high visibility and easy access, ample and adjacent parking, hotels with a variety of price points, water and power.
Paired with New Orleans’ popular appeal as a leisure destination, the MCC’s reputation for spaciousness, flexibility and extraordinary service continues to sustain the Crescent City’s national leadership status. In 2009, there were 101 major conventions and trade shows held at the Convention Center. Those events attracted 499,567 visitors.
Success by the Numbers:
• In its 25 years of operation, the Convention Center, there have been a total of 1,977 major conventions and trade shows in the Convention Center. These conventions have attracted 12,162,653attendees to the New Orleans area and generated an economic impact of $48.1 billion.
• In 2009, 101 events were held at the Convention Center, drawing 499,567 attendees.
• The total economic impact of the Convention Center in 2009 was $1,685.68 million or $1.69 billion.
• This is made up of direct spending of $895.84 million and secondary spending of $789.84 million.
• The direct and secondary spending that is attributable to the Convention Center produced $138.91 million in tax revenue for the State of Louisiana.
• $80.70 million of this revenue was collected by the State of Louisiana and $58.21 million was collected by local government bodies, specifically the City of New Orleans, the Orleans Parish School Board and the Regional Transit Authority.
• In addition, 23,989 jobs in the local economy are supported by the activities of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, creating $499.89 million in income for local area residents.
About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
With 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space, an award winning staff and first class amenities, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO) is the sixth largest convention center in the nation and a consistent Top 10 host of the largest conventions and tradeshows annually. A leading rainmaker of the city’s hospitality industry, MCCNO event activity has produced $48.1 billion in economic impact through 2009. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the MCCNO has welcomed more than 12 million visitors through its doors.