• Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     
  • Texas Convention/Conference Centers built to stand the test of time

     
    FROM THE Winter 2016 ISSUE
     

Other than Alaska, Texas is by far the largest state by area in the country. It is only apropos that the Lone Star State has a number of large convention centers, many of which are brand new or under construction. From the Dallas suburb of Allen down to San Antonio, over to Houston and down to Victoria, Texas is stocked with convention centers that fall under those two categories. The following are four of them.

Emerging Technology Complex, Victoria

It’s the only one of its kind in the state. And, not only does the Emerging Technology Complex have a spectacular Conference & Education Center, it also has an Industrial Training Center that is truly cutting edge. Opened last June, the entire complex has people talking.

“Groups can hold their meetings at the Conference & Education Center, then take a covered walkway over to the Industrial Training Center for classes and training,” says Emerging Technology Complex Manager Tempi McLeod. “The ITC has six classrooms and six training bays. It has a rapid response training bay that can be turned into an area to meet the needs of the group. There’s also a truck-driving simulation that allows truckers in training to truly feel like they’re out on the highway.”

The Conference & Education Center is certified by the International Association of Conference Centres, meaning it provides such perks as ergonomic furniture and the finest that technology has to offer. The CEC has 19,000 square feet of meeting space on the first two floors, plus 50,000 more on the third floor when not being used for classrooms and training. Groups can use a caterer of their choice.

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio

One up, one down. That, in a nutshell, is the agenda for a huge transformation that is well underway at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. A brand-new, state-ofthe- art facility was just completed in January as an add-on to a building that was completed in 1999. The grand opening is in March. The new structure replaces a soon-to-be-demolished one that was nearly a half-century old and whose space will be taken up with an expanded Hemisfair Park.

“We’re gaining about 20 percent—about 125,000 square feet—more meeting and exhibit space, including one 4,000-square-foot meeting room that will be cantilevered above the street,” says Steve Clanton, vice president of sales for the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. “All told, there’s more than 525,000 square feet of exhibit space between the two buildings.”

The crown jewel of the new structure, which has an impressive entranceway and a 40,000-square-foot lobby, is a 56,000-squarefoot ballroom that is the largest in the state of Texas. It seats approximately 5,000 people for a general session and 3,000 for a sit-down meal, and can be broken down into three spaces. There are five exhibit halls. The largest is 180,000 square feet and the smallest is 86,000 square feet, the latter a multipurpose and pillarless room that can host meetings and trade shows, and can hold up to 8,000 people. The convention center uses the RK Group for catering.

George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston

With more than 1 million square feet of meeting space, one contiguous space of nearly 550,000 square feet, 88 meeting rooms, seven exhibit halls, four conference rooms, an inhouse caterer and an already breathtaking edifice, the George R. Brown Convention Center will take the word “breathtaking” to a new level by this fall. A major renovation is underway.

“We’re extending the building out into the street,” says A.J. Mistretta, senior public relations manager of Visit Houston. “There will be up to six restaurants, plus a 95,000-squarefoot concourse running the length of the building that will allow for registration and exhibit space. There will also be a grand entranceway with a beautiful piece of art right in the middle of the foyer as you walk in and an outdoor plaza running the length of the front of the building with art, outdoor seating, performance space and more. All of this will turn the convention center into more of a destination-type place for conventiongoers, locals and other visitors.”

Not coincidentally, the under-construction and adjacent Marriott Marquis Houston will be completed at the same time as the convention center renovation. Just like the Hilton Americas Houston on the other side, the new hotel will be connected to the convention center by way of an enclosed sky bridge, making the convention center the dazzling centerpiece.

“And, as an added bonus,” Mistretta says, “any overflow from an event at the convention center can spill over into either of the hotels.”

The Convention Center at Watters Creek, Allen

It’s not scheduled to be completed until spring 2017, but the entire region is abuzz over The Convention Center at Watters Creek. Groundbreaking is slated for January.

“We don’t have an official brand yet, but we do know it’s going to be a four-star hotel and convention center with 290 guest rooms,” Allen Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Karen Cromwell says. “The unique thing about the convention center will be the 60,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes a 30,000-square-foot exposition room. It will have a polished concrete floor, which will allow it to not only host gala affairs, but also events that can handle heavy equipment such as car shows and trade shows that might include things like tractors.”

Other event space will include a true ballroom with carpeting and chandeliers. Catering will be provided in-house. On top of that, just across the street is picturesque Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, an outdoor shopping center that will give conventiongoers ample opportunity for dining, shopping and entertainment.

“This convention center, the entire complex, is going to be just fabulous,” Cromwell says. “There’s nothing like it in the North Dallas area.”

When it comes to meeting at the Austin Convention Center, the numbers are forever in your favor. Let’s start with six. That’s how many full city blocks the convention center extends in the heart of the downtown business district. Or 12,000—the number of hotel rooms within a two-mile radius of the venue. Twenty-thousand is how many wireless devices that can be simultaneously connected, ensuring all of your guests won’t miss a meeting, Zoom call, presentation or email.  

 

Located in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, Hotel Drover, an award-winning Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott, focuses on simple pleasures and genuine hospitality. Kick-off your boots and stay awhile with 200 rustic-luxe rooms and suites. When ready, grab a hand-crafted cocktail or cold beer and wander outside to The Backyard at Hotel Drover, an outdoor oasis, with creekside seating, outdoor games, and seasonal live music.

 

In 1927, Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton said, "Abilene, Texas will be well prepared to handle large conventions and please the most fastidious visitor." Nearly 95 years later, Abilene has fulfilled this vision and is excited to welcome back the Hilton family of hotels in the heart of Downtown Abilene with a recently announced DoubleTree by Hilton.