A huge economic engine is rising near Third and Monroe streets in downtown Phoenix.
Work continues on the Phoenix Convention Center North Building, which will help funnel $350 million into the Phoenix-area economy each year, according to city projections. By 2013, that number could grow to $500 million a year, city officials said.
“We are planting the seeds for future tourism in the state of Arizona,” said Jay Green, director of the convention center.
The North Building, which is 569,000 square feet, is the final and biggest phase of the $600 million Phoenix Convention Center makeover. The project will be completed in December and will welcome its first convention in January, Phoenix officials say.
“We are looking at this as the centerpiece downtown,” said Councilman Michael Johnson, whose district includes the convention center.
Few signs of the Civic Plaza, the old convention-center complex that opened in 1972, are left. The name was changed to the Phoenix Convention Center. A 155,400-square-foot West Building was completed in 2006, and the old North Building was razed to make way for the one under construction.
The South Building remains, but it’s getting a new look that will be complete this summer.
Increasing the size of the convention center has made Phoenix a contender for lucrative national and international gatherings, said Scott Dunn, communications manager for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.
As of Jan 31, the convention center had 134 meetings under contract through 2010, Dunn said. Ninety-three groups have made tentative plans to come to the convention center during that period, he said.
That includes the National Rifle Association, which is expected to bring 60,000 conventioneers to Phoenix in 2009. The convention center also will host events for the NBA All-Star Game in February.