Local News

Final touches put on Raleigh’s new convention center

Posted August 31, 2008

— After six years of planning and three years of construction, the Raleigh Convention Center will open Sept. 5 amid the concerts, parades and crowds of the Raleigh Wide Open weekend festival.

The International Festival of Raleigh will be one of the first events held there as part of next week's grand opening celebration.

"I think we are going to see an increase in attendance from 15,000 to somewhere around 100,000,” Kathy Knudsen,director of the International Festival of Raleigh, said.

The center already has 135 conventions booked through 2023, and the bookings for this year are four times what was projected.

"We're just completely blown away by the interest in our area," Laurie Okun, with the Raleigh Convention Center, said.

The center's design focuses on North Carolina's past and future. The ballroom ceiling has a weave pattern paying tribute to the state's textiles history. The carpet pattern is made to look like a circuit board inside a computer. The state-of-the-art kitchen has 20 refrigerators.

"It's part of our promise that we were going to give people world class," convention center director Roger Krupa said.

The center is 500,000 square feet with 19 meeting rooms, a grand ballroom and a four-star, 400 room Marriott hotel next door.

The city's $221 million investment in the center – $41 million over its budget – is expect to give a major boost to downtown Raleigh's rebirth. Mayor Charles Meeker said earlier this month that he estimated it would help pump as much as $80 million annually into the local economy.

"It’s a new day for Raleigh and we are going to put our best foot forward for our guests and our hometown customers,” Krupa said.

The center is also environmentally friendly. Floor to ceiling windows allows light in – helping to cut down on electricity. It is just one feature that helped the center become certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.


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  • BULLDOZER Sep 1, 2008

    Our group has historically rented the center each year for its annual awards gala will experience an almost 250% increase in our cost to be there next year. Everything from the amount of chairs and tables we use to what types of food served are all extras.

    I would be curious to see the real time numbers and actual years it will take for the city to break even on this thing. As for us, our group of almost 2000 are still considering whether to go there or not.

  • meteo Sep 1, 2008

    I agree 100% with jm18668!

    I support the convention center. Time will tell us the level of success, but I commend Raleigh and it's leaders for how they are trying to advance the city. For those of you like superman and georgeorwell1, how would you rather Raleigh progress? If nothing else, jobs have been created in association with the convention center (the Mint staff, the Marriott staff, the construction workers, the new parking deck). Raleigh is attempting to bring in money from outside the area in a sophisticated way. I don't understand the problem with that. If the convention center is successful, Raleigh will be better off and will only use the momentum for future advancement.

  • smcallah Sep 1, 2008


    Most major companies that would have people attending a conference would have corporate discounts, especially at a hotel chain such as the Marriott. Big companies won't be paying $250/night. And they will reimburse their employees if the Marriott is on an approved list of hotels for an employee to stay.

  • jm18668 Sep 1, 2008

    I find it hard to believe the number of people that think that there is nothing downtown. There are plenty of nice places to eat. Unfortunately most people are too lazy to park and walk a block or two go anywhere. Hop in you car on a Friday night, drive to Glenwood South, the Warehouse district, or Moore Square and see what you have been missing.

  • superman Sep 1, 2008

    The Raleigh mayor and the mayor of Rocky Mount have something to talk about now. Who is going to schedule a convention with rooms at the hotel running 250.00 a night? And even if they attend a convention-- they will find a way to stay at a cheaper place. No company reimburses 250.00 for a room. They are no nice places to eat downtown so they not going to eat there. No stores to shop so they certainly not going to shop downtown. We just wait and see just how successful they are! They should post a sign welcome to rocky mount in the convention center.

  • ifcdirector Sep 1, 2008

    I guess the events are going to be free for the taxpayers who were held upside down and had their pockets shaken out for at least the first year of events right? Yeah sure. This is going to end up someone's money maker but like the RBC center and it's ruthless governance from entrance to door and back it won't be to the benefit of the common everyday getting lowlier with every liberal boondoggle taxpayer in this town. Keep voting for liberals if you want more officials who can dream up 100,000 people attending something in a pie in the sky over budget project over and over again. Why work when you have to hand over your check for things like this continually?

  • georgeorwell1 Sep 1, 2008

    As little as it will be used, nobody is even going to notice whether the final touches are in place or not. That building is the biggest waste of space and money. I guess some city council member made good money from the kick backs on this "white elephant"