by Andrea Doyle | January 29, 2019
The long-awaited renovation of the Memphis Convention Center has begun. Over the following months, it will be updated with hotel-quality finishes and modern amenities at a price tag of $188 million. The center will remain open during the renovation, to be completed in 2020.
When all the work is done, the facility will feature a column-free, 118,000-square-foot main exhibit hall; a new exterior concourse and prefunction space; 46 breakout rooms; a secondary flex space that will convert easily to a 67,500-square-foot ballroom, the largest in the region; and a 28,000-square foot ballroom to host smaller events. The renovation will also install new public art, digital way-finding and additional loading docks for easier access for setting up a show.
"This will be a game-changing renovation of this facility," said Mayor Jim Strickland who joined other city leaders for a groundbreaking last week.  
"We're remodeling this facility with meeting planners and their delegates in mind. When complete, we'll have modern enhancements throughout the redesigned Memphis Convention Center, including a grand new entrance, high-end finishes, more breakout meeting rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows that treat visitors to natural light and stunning river views," said Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism, the official destination marketing organization for Memphis & Shelby County, which also is charged with recruiting meetings and conventions to Memphis. 
Also planned for the project is a new and spacious grand entrance on the east side of the building, across from the 600-room Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel, and a Main Street Trolley transit station connecting to several downtown hotels. A new sky bridge across Main Street will connect the Sheraton to the center. Also in the works is a 550-room Loews Hotel, with an opening date set for the end of 2022. The 2,100-seat Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, also connected to the center, will get its own cosmetic and back-of-house upgrades as part of the renovation project.