RALEIGH, N.C. — For years, Wake County and the city of Raleigh have debated whether to take the city's outdated convention center to the next level.
Now, city and county leaders have agreed to fund a $60,000 study for a new convention center. It is a major commitment that could bring a big payoff.
Beyond getting local graduations and trade shows, the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center does not draw events that pull in people and their money from across the country.
Roger Krupa has been the convention center's director for 22 years. He admits that the facility is outdated and that there have been some interesting adaptations made there over the years.
"You might be eating a steak dinner one night and have a boat sitting here the next night or a car show in the exhibition space. So what might be preserved as a very nice ballroom has to have multiple uses here," he said of the 800 events hosted at the facility each year.
Krupa is also aware of many of the building's shortcomings.
"One of the problems is when you walk into this building you walk past our loading dock. Our loading docks are in front of the building. I don't know if anybody would design a convention center that way," he said.
Will a bigger, better and newer convention center fit into Raleigh's grand plans for downtown?
"I personally believe the city does not have a true vision of what it wants from a convention center. I hope that this study will help us form that vision of what we think ought to happen," said Raleigh Deputy Mayor Roger Odom.
Another problem is a lack of hotel rooms near the convention center. Local leaders believe that if they build a new facility, hotels would follow.
Raleigh built the convention center in 1977. The building was updated five years ago.