Convention center renovation plan is in the works - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Convention center renovation plan is in the works

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A plan is in the works to renovate the Kentucky International Convention Center.  During Thursday's Kentucky State Fair Board meeting, a joint study led by the Convention and Visitors Bureau was released -- and fair board member approved it.

It finds changes need to be made in order to be competitive and attract more conventions instead of losing them to other cities.

The plan calls for a $150 million renovation of the convention center, including expanding its primary exhibit space on the second floor, moving all ballrooms to the first floor, staying within its current walls and not closing Third Street to traffic.

Attracting bigger and better conventions and trade shows would generate more tax revenue to help pay for the KFC Yum! Center arena downtown and protect 22,000 hospitality jobs in the city, the report and Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Fair Board President Rip Rippetoe explains, "The reasons we are losing, according to the study, is because we need to have that continuous space, and we need to have more continuous flow so there's not an old vs. a new space."

Mayor Greg Fischer says the city needs an expanded center to attract larger conventions.

The state fair board and the city must now figure out how to pay for the improvements.  The center was last expanded in 2000.  Leaders back then floated the idea of closing Third Street, but public outcry kept it open.

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