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Covention Center to Grow, Pull Large Groups

Land is cleared for the upcoming convention center.
Land is cleared for the upcoming convention center.

By Marina Giovannelli

Wilington, NC – The Wilmington City Council will decide tonight whether to approve plans to expand the upcoming convention center.

The convention center task force chair Dale Smith says construction costs are down, and it is cheaper to build more rooms in the convention center.

Smith says more meeting space means more clients.

"It's very exciting because it adds over 1,200 square feet of meeting space, and the committee always felt we need more meeting space. We will provide four rooms, and three of those can be combined into a bigger meeting space," says Smith.

The council will also vote on a plan to maximize bookings for the upcoming convention center. The goal is to get as many people into the convention center as possible, and the group marketing the convention center says it has a plan to do just that.

Kim Hufham is president of Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is in charge of booking the center. Hufham says she is targeting state and regional associations, as well as military, educational and recreational groups.

"The main purpose of the convention center is to generate room nights at our hotels, that is how our convention center is funded, is through the rooms tax, so in order for it to be successful, you have to fill up hotel rooms as well," says Hufham.

When it's completed in 2010, Wilmington's convention center will be the largest one of its kind on the North Carolina coast.

The city council will also hold a second vote to determine guidelines for rebuilding historic structures in downtown Wilmington.