Since it opened in 1990, the Colorado Convention Center has been an economic engine for downtown Denver, generating more than $500 million a year in economic impact.
For more than 100 years, the National Western Stock Show has been recognized as the “Super Bowl” of stock shows, one of the premier livestock industry events in America.
Keeping these institutions relevant for the next two decades is important to the economic health of Denver. To that end, VISIT DENVER, the City & County of Denver Arts & Venues and the Western Stock Show Association engaged the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) to prepare a feasibility study to examine all meeting, convention, tradeshow and livestock facilities in the city.
SAG was asked to examine nationwide industry trends and, based on this information, make recommendations to keep Denver’s facilities competitive and state-of-the art for the next 25 years.
"There are hundreds of convention centers around the country, but very few have the dedication to public art that is seen in the Colorado Convention Center. It is a great introduction to the artistic side of Denver."
Denver Art Museum
National Western Complex & Denver Coliseum
The study confirmed that the National Western Stock Show is regarded as one of the nation’s premier livestock events; however, there is a high level of dissatisfaction among users with the facilities. The study found that the majority of the facilities are obsolete and have poor site logistics. The study suggested that with new and adaptively reused facilities organized in a more functional master plan, Denver could bring 88 new events and 910,500 new visitors to the complex annually, adding $5.1 million in new tax revenue.
Colorado Convention Center
The study reported a high level of satisfaction with the convention center experience in Denver and found that Denver is currently ranked as one of the top meeting cities in the nation. However, to remain competitive in the future in this extremely competitive marketplace and to take advantage of changes in the meetings industry, the study recommended:
- Ballroom/Meeting Space – Add a new 35,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. ballroom and 25,000 to 35,000 sq. ft. of specialty meeting space that captures a unique Rocky Mountain feeling.
- Meeting Experience – Create new, unique meeting experiences and places that encourage attendee and exhibitor networking.
- Technology – Increase the bandwidth for technology upgrades, offering online video streaming and crowd sourcing to support the evolving needs of clients.
- Hotel Inventory & Configuration – Encourage any future hotel development around the convention center to be configured in a way that helps maximize the available room blocks to foster bookings in the facility. This would generate business for all hotels, create increased rate pressure metro-wide and drive further Lodger’s Tax growth.
The study projects that following these recommendations could conservatively mean 36,000 new attendees for an incremental impact of nearly $50 million in annual direct delegate spending, generating an additional $3.4 million annually in local sales and hotel taxes.
Without these changes, the study suggests the CCC could risk losing business to other cities that are staying relevant and modifying and expanding their convention facilities. A 10-percent reduction in business would result in Denver losing $50 million of annual direct delegate spending.
At the start of 2015, VISIT DENVER was working on two studies with the City, creating a new Master Plan for the CCC and developing a second area plan on how the CCC and the adjacent Denver Performing Arts Complex can be integrated to create a larger downtown innovation district.
VISIT DENVER’s Scharf is excited for the future of the convention center. “The meetings industry is constantly evolving and changing as people find new ways to educate, communicate and sell products, and we need to keep our convention facilities up to date with the latest trends,” he says. “Today, people are concerned with spaces to network and meet-one-on-one, and they are looking for facilities that give a sense of place. With the results of the SAG study, we are creating a master plan to keep the Colorado Convention Center successful and relevant for the next 25 years.”