This Happy New Year's message has a special purpose as the Year 2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The Pennsylvania Convention Center officially opened its doors in 1993, replacing the outdated 60-year-old Philadelphia Civic Center. It was the culmination of a more than 10-year process that began in the early 1980s when the construction of a new, more modern Convention Center became an integral part of a larger strategy to rejuvenate Center City.
In 1983, city planners identified 12th and Arch Streets as the ideal home for a new convention center. Three years later, the Pennsylvania Legislature formally created the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA). In 1991, the PCCA broke ground on the two-year, $522 million construction of the new convention center, opening it on time and on budget on June 26, 1993. The Grand Opening was paired with the City's inaugural Welcome America Celebration and featured then-Vice President Al Gore who cut the ribbon and underscored the importance of the Center to the rebirth of Center City, calling it "a building block of the revitalization of Philadelphia."
The Pennsylvania Convention Center hosted its first citywide convention, the Mennonite Board of Congregational Ministers with 6,000 attendees in 1993; the building now averages more than 1.1 million people annually. Over time, those attendees have infused billions of dollars into the economy, helping to drive the growth of the region's hospitality industry workforce to 71,000 employees.
Our Center has evolved to meet the changing nature of the convention and meetings industry, reinventing and improving our operations to ensure we remain competitive as a destination for both national and international meetings and signature events. Those changes included a $787 million expansion of the Center in 2011, the hiring of private facility manager SMG to oversee day-to-day operations, and the implementation of new customer-friendly work rules and exhibitor rights.
The Convention Center will host a year-long celebration in 2018 to mark our Silver Anniversary with events that pay tribute to our past and our future. It is our hope that the many valued members of the region's hospitality industry will partner with us on signature events throughout this year. Working together, these events will underscore the valuable contributions and economic impact of the Convention Center on the region's hospitality industry.
Our plans include a new 25th Anniversary logo and banners displayed near the Center; a formal unveiling of the new additions to our already-impressive art collection which will include scheduled public tours; a partnership with Reading Terminal Market to celebrate that remarkable Philadelphia institution's 125th anniversary; special features and musical events; and, of course, a joint celebration with Welcome America - where it all began.
We look forward to unveiling more details in the coming months and we welcome any thoughts or ideas you have regarding potential partnerships with your organization that tie into our 25th Anniversary celebration.
Thank you for your past support. With your continued partnership, our future is very bright.
Gregory J. Fox, Chairman, PennsylvaniaConvention Center
Heather A. Steinmiller, Vice Chair, Pennsylvania Convention Center
John J. McNichol, President & CEO, Pennsylvania Convention Center