Downtown convention center to get multi-million dollar makeover - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Downtown convention center to get multi-million dollar makeover

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky lawmakers approved one construction project for Louisville in the state budget, and it means a major makeover for the International Convention Center downtown.

The $50 million for the Kentucky International Convention Center is the only capital project for the city of Louisville included in the new state budget.

This past weekend, thousands converged at the downtown convention center for an annual gathering of comic book fans.

"Coming to a convention, you get to be surrounded by people with the same interests as you, and it's a lot of fun," said Amber Jones, who attended the event.

The State Fair Board, which operates the convention center, says the renovation will mean even more conventions like this one.

"It means about $53.2 million a year in economic impact once this expansion is complete, said Amanda Storment, spokesperson for the State Fair Board.

That's because the renovation will add nearly 100,000 square feet of connected convention space, as well as improved meeting rooms.

"And what this means is we can go after more business - 25-percent more business. We are able to attract conventions that we could have never gone after before with the kind of space that we have now," said Storment.

The entire project will cost about $180 million. The rest of the funding will come from bonds sold by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and from a one-percent hike in the hotel bed tax.

Downtown hotels are counting on more of those beds being filled by convention goers like Amber Jones.

"We got a hotel room so we wouldn't have to drive downtown everyday and then drive back home late at night," said Jones.

"It's a great economic development project. It's great for Louisville but it's also good for the entire commonwealth," said Storment.

Next, the State Fair Board will take bids for an architect to design the new space. Construction is well over a year away.

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