Seattle Center Looks to Add Exhibit, Meeting Space

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Seattle, WA – A request to greatly expand the exhibit space at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center (WSCTC) in Seattle will likely come before the state legislature this Winter.

The management of the state-owned facility says it is losing potential customers due to the lack of space at the building, which currently consists of 205,700 square feet of prime exhibit space, 102,200 square feet of meeting space and 20,000 square feet of flex space located in the midst of Seattle’s vibrant downtown.

“The WSCTC is looking at the expansion of our facility and adding approximately 220,000 square feet of exhibition space, 100,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a new 50,000 square-foot ballroom,” said WSCTC President and General Manager John Christison. “We are still in the very early stages of development and are focusing on getting authorization from our legislature.”

The new space would be housed in a separate building that would be erected on a site one block northwest of the current convention center.

Christison told Trade Show Executive the expansion could be completed in 2014 or 2015 if the legislature acts promptly on the request during its next session, which runs from January though May. “We’ll have a much firmer grip on this come May,” he added.

Backers of the expansion told a legislature task force in November that the expansion would cost around $776 million and would be paid for with the current 7% tax levied on hotel rooms in Seattle.

The room tax is currently used to finance convention marketing and to pay the tab for the last convention center expansion that occurred in 2001.

There is, however, a potential rival for the funding. Mayor Greg Nickels has proposed using a portion of the revenue stream to help pay for an overhaul of KeyArena in hopes of luring a National Basketball Association team to Seattle to replace the Sonics, who moved to Oklahoma City this season.

While the KeyArena project could provide an obstacle to the expansion of the WSCTC, the Seattle Times noted that the legislature had rejected four previous requests for funds to renovate KeyArena.

Reach John Christison at 206-694-5011 or jchristi@wsctc.com