On July 20, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center (LBCEC) unveiled "The Cove," a multipurpose space, functioning as a sheltered "street party" venue that fronts the center's Seaside Ballroom and Meeting Room. Appropriately, the launch of the new turnkey space was done with fanfare, fireworks, and a high-energy street party.
DJ cb shaw kept a crowd of 600 attendees moving to the beat, bar stations dispensed glowing cocktails, and food stations dispensed nibbles, and eight local food trucks offered Caribbean bowls, steak sliders, chicken-and waffles on a stick, and more.
Of course, this was more than a party; it was a demonstration of what the LBCEC is capable of. "We're constantly rethinking our spaces and this is a venue unlike anything you'll see at any other convention center," said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Are Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
In addition to fronting the Seaside Ballroom, the Cove can also serve as a grand entrance on Seaside Way, complete with five ritzy LED chandeliers, themed fixtures, and original art supplied by the Pow! Wow! mural program. At full capacity (full closure of Seaside Way Cove) the Cove can accommodate up to 5,500 guests, or between 3,000 to 4,200, with a single-end closure on either side of the porte-cochere.
The "no boundaries" approach to meeting space comes at the suggestion of Janet and Katherine McCartney, event producers of the world-famous TED Conference, which was originally held in Long Beach. Goodling, one of Successful Meetings' "25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry" for 2017 has picked the brains of the McCartneys and taken several of their ideas to heart, the results of which have been the re-imagination of the Long Beach Arena into the Pacific Ballroom, the use of the parking lot as an event space, and most recently, The Cove.
At the height of the party, face and body painters had livened up many arms and faces (in one case, a bald man was sporting a painted-on glittery toupee), a container supplied by the Port of Long Beach had a new mural painted by the partiers, and about 20 percent of attendees were wearing blinky balloon hats. Guests danced, played ping pong, and watched surf movies on the big screen. And ate -- in addition to the food trucks, local nosheries Gastro Garage, Pie Bar, Shave It Ice, and Super Cool Creamery kept the sweets flowing.
Mayor Robert Garcia was also on hand to launch The Cove, and to introduce the Rainbow Bridge elevated pedestrian walkway that will soon debut.
"The introduction of The Cove and the adjacent Rainbow Bridge are re-imagining the convention experience," said Mayor Garcia. "[These] will invigorate our iconic oceanfront for visitors and residents alike." The Cove and the Rainbow Bridge are the most recent assets of the Long Beach Convention Center's $60 million renovation and improvement program.