The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (“the Authority”) adopted a $557 million five-year capital improvement plan that includes renovations of the 34-year old Morial Convention Center (“Center”), as well as lays the foundation for development of new facilities that include a Convention Center Headquarters Hotel with a physical connection to the Center.
Other major capital improvement projects approved by the Authority Board at Wednesday’s meeting include development of a 7.5 acre pedestrian park that spans the length of the Center along Convention Center Boulevard, creating a safer and more diverse experience for both visitors and residents. The pedestrian park project scope includes creation of a transportation center connected to the Center via a covered walkway as well as outdoor entertainment spaces, seating areas, public art and water features. Construction on Convention Center Boulevard is scheduled to begin this summer with expected completion in 2020.
Additional enhancements to the facility include meeting room and public area renovations to modernize the Center using a more contemporary design commensurate with newer facilities developed around the U.S. The five-year capital improvement plan includes annual capital investments to ensure the Center is maintained to a first-class facility standard.
“The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s exclusive mission is to finance, construct, and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows, and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region,” said Melvin Rodrigue, Authority President. “It is extremely important that we continue to invest in our existing facility as well as critical new facilities in the surrounding district to ensure that New Orleans retains its position as one of the very best convention destinations in the entire world.” Rodrigue continued.
In recent months the Authority has made critical investments towards city-wide projects totaling $76 million that include public safety infrastructure, educational opportunities for hospitality employees, and new recreational enhancements and public access along the Mississippi River. The Authority has provided $23 million in funding toward French Quarter security enhancements that includes the addition of 30 state police officers, security cameras, and strategically-placed bollards on Bourbon Street that are meant to prevent vehicular threats to pedestrian activity. Also included in the Authority’s significant financial contribution to the City’s public safety program is $5 million in funding for the Real Time Crime Monitoring Center.
Late last year, the Authority purchased a five story, 93,000 square foot building at 725 Howard Avenue at a cost of $12 million that will soon open as the New Orleans Culinary Hospitality Institute (“NOCHI”). NOCHI will provide programs critical to training the workforce necessary, both now and in the future, for New Orleans to maintain its reputation as a tier-one visitor destination. Real-world training by New Orleans’s best culinarians and hospitality professionals will accelerate the student’s upward mobility within the industry.
To help celebrate the tricentennial, the Authority is funding the complete renovation to Spanish Plaza and more recently, in partnership with the Audubon Institute, the Authority agreed to contribute $9 million toward the purchase of the Governor Nichols Street and Esplanade Avenue Wharfs that will serve as a new recreational area for local citizens and visitors alike.
“These critical investments in the New Orleans community and in the Convention Center are in complete alignment with our vision to be a leading-edge organization known for innovative delivery of exceptional event experiences in a world-class destination,” says Michael Sawaya, President and General Manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. “The Authority is committed to ensuring that the Convention Center remains viable as a strong economic engine for New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.”
About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, in an entirely contiguous hall, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center features an award winning staff and first class amenities, and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation. A consistent Top 10 host of the largest conventions and tradeshows in the nation annually, the Convention Center is also one of the city’s “Top Workplaces.” A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, the Convention Center’s event activity has produced $81.7 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.1 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.
About the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority
The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s (Authority) exclusive mission is to finance, construct and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 12-member board of commissioners, nine appointed by the Governor of Louisiana, and three appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans. Since 1985, event activity at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has produced $81.7 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.1 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.