Frankfort, Ky. – In his first State of the Commonwealth address last night, Governor Matt Bevin included the proposal for a $60 million bond issue to expand and renovate the Lexington Convention Center.
The entire project, a $250 million endeavor, is supported by the Lexington Center Corporation, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, VisitLEX, Commerce Lexington, the Downtown Development Authority, the Downtown Lexington Corporation and the Bluegrass Hospitality Association.
The Lexington Convention Center expansion will include a new, contiguous 100,000 square-foot exhibit hall, with the potential for future growth; a new 22,500 square-foot ballroom; and an additional 30,000 square feet of meeting space.
According to LCC President & CEO Bill Owen, “The importance of the new Convention Center as an economic engine for the continued growth and prosperity of the city of Lexington, the Bluegrass region and the state of Kentucky cannot be overstated. We are appreciative of the support that is lining up behind this project from our city and state leaders.”
Under its current space limitations, the convention center is only able to market to about 65 percent of potential national convention business, according to an independent study by CSL (Conventions, Sports and Leisure, LLC).
“Lexington and Central Kentucky experienced a record-breaking year for tourism in 2015, and we are poised for another year of strong growth,” said Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLex. “Our two signature industries – horses and Bourbon – continue to attract visitors from around the world. We must expand our convention center now to capitalize on that momentum and build upon Lexington’s place as a world-class destination.”
“Our future is very bright with this type of investment in our community,” Ramer added.
Owen said the CSL study showed that with the expansion, economic activity generated by the convention center would grow to more than $57 million annually.
“We believe Governor Bevin and our legislators recognize the economic necessity of this investment in public infrastructure,” Owen said. “We look forward to enjoying a Lexington Center designed for the 21stcentury.”
In addition to the $60 million in state funding, the remaining 75 percent of the proposed $250 million Lexington Center Corp. expansion would be funded through local funds. Under a proposal before the General Assembly, the legislature is also being asked to give the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council the authority to increase the transient room tax 2.5 cents