San Francisco’s Moscone Center, World Class Convention Complex In A World Class City

Just as a world class city leads the way in attracting dynamic businesses that bring jobs and boost the local economy, that same city should have a vibrant and expansive city convention and exhibition complex that speaks to its global status.

Moscone Center is the largest convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco. writer, photo credit via Bartable

It comprises three main halls: Two underground halls underneath Yerba Buena Gardens, known as Moscone North and Moscone South, and a three-level Moscone West exhibition hall across 4th Street.

Although the Center is named after the murdered mayor, ironically Mr. Moscone initially opposed the development of the area when he served on the SF Board of Supervisors in the 1960s because he felt it would displace elderly and poor residents of the area.

Hopefully he would be proud of it now.

Moscone Center is known for hosting several large professional gatherings, such as the VMworld, Oracle OpenWorld, Macworld Expo, RSA Conference, American Geophysical Union‘s fall meeting, American Bar Association‘s annual meeting, the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft’s Build conference, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Google I/O, JavaOne and public gated events such as WonderCon and the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic Party of the United States held its 1984 convention at the Convention Center, nominating Walter Mondale for President of the United States and Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President (the first time a woman had been nominated by a major party for either office).

Here are the thoughts of the center’s leadership. “The Moscone Expansion project is an extraordinary effort by the City, the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District Management Corporation, and the hotel industry to expand our existing convention space. While it is one of the most successful convention centers in the United States, Moscone Center is operating at capacity and is losing business to competing markets with more space to offer. In order to continue to attract the best and brightest events to San Francisco’s convention market, we plan to increase our capacity and contiguous space.

Tourism is the single biggest contributor to San Francisco’s economy and Moscone Center is responsible for 21% of it. This project serves to safeguard the myriad of benefits brought to line-service employees, San Franciscans, and our city at large by guaranteeing our ability to meet demand for years to come. The increases in hotel tax revenue, job creation, and the general positive economic impact of this project will serve the needs of all San Franciscans and visitors alike.”

Word has it that they have fulfilled their promises in grand fashion. writer, photo credit

Success can come at a price.

On May 29, 2017, the San Francisco Chronicle shared, “If you’ve driven past the Moscone Center lately, you might have noticed something missing — the big hall that hosted the 1984 Democratic National Convention. It’s now a giant hole in the ground, soon to be the site of an even bigger hall.

Cratering the convention hall is part of a $500 million, 3½-year makeover of the Moscone Center. When it’s done, the city will be able to host as many as a dozen more conventions annually than it did with the old building.”

Sometimes great progress calls for accepting temporary setbacks.

Let’s move up the timeline to September 14, 2017 and listen in from the Office of the Mayor. “Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Board President London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim, San Francisco hospitality industry leaders and City officials today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the Phase II completion of the $551 million Moscone Expansion Project.

“With tourism being the top industry of San Francisco, we need to ensure that our travelers and convention-goers can enjoy state-of-the-art amenities and cutting edge resources,” said Mayor Lee. “The Moscone expansion project will make our convention center an even more attractive and innovative site for our visitors. Now when people arrive in downtown San Francisco, they will be greeted by one of the finest convention centers in the world.”

The Moscone Expansion Project, a partnership between The City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District Management Corporation (SFTIDMC), is a four-year, four-phase expansion and renovation that increases the convention center space by 21 percent, from 1.2 million square feet to 1.5 million square feet. Once completed, the center will include more than 80 flexible meeting rooms, a 50,000-square-foot grand ballroom, more than 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space and outdoor terraces.  Additionally, improvements to public amenities include wider sidewalks, multiple open-air plazas, improved landscape area and four separate public art installations.

“The South of Market and Yerba Buena community helped to envision an updated Moscone Center which includes preserving and improving recreational space for children and families, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and open-air plazas to create a more welcoming neighborhood for residents, spenders and tourists to enjoy,” said Supervisor Kim. “The expansion of the Moscone Center furthers the vitality of the Yerba Buena neighborhood.”

“San Francisco attracts conventions from all over the world, with many booking the Moscone Convention Center years in advance,” said Board President Breed. “The expansion is long overdue and will increase our capacity to provide optimum space to support more conventions. I’m excited about the growth to our economy as well, with more revenue for our hotels, restaurants, and small businesses, which in turn increases tax revenue for the city.”

The completion of Phase II marks a major milestone in the upgrade of the City’s convention center, encompassing 200,000 square feet of expansion and renovation, including a new ballroom, expansion to exhibition halls, flexible meeting rooms and an expansive lobby. For the last five months, Moscone North and South have been closed for construction, while Moscone West has remained open. On September 9, Moscone North and South will open once again, hosting a fall lineup of conferences that includes the GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas, Oracle OpenWorld, Salesforce’s Dreamforce and the San Francisco Auto Show, all of which draw tens of thousands of visitors to San Francisco.

“Since the start of construction, it’s been amazing to see the transformation and new life brought to this historic facility,” said City Administrator Naomi Kelly. “Including the community in the design was key to creating a better Moscone Center. The expansion of the center is transforming the Yerba Buena neighborhood and creating a better quality of life for residents and visitors to our great city.”

“The Public Works Moscone Expansion team, along with our partners at Webcor Builders and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, have been working around the clock to make sure this game-changing project gets completed on time. The deadline is not flexible,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “This time next week, there will be thousands of convention-goers using this fantastic new building, and I am confident that they will agree with us that San Francisco is a world-class City with world-class facilities.” writer, photo credit via HOK

The expansion work is critical to ensuring Moscone’s status as a premier venue equipped to attract the large, high-profile shows of the convention industry. The increase in hotel tax revenue, job creation, and the general positive economic impact of this project will serve the needs of San Franciscans and visitors alike. In 2016, the City hosted 25.2 million visitors, generating $9 billion in spending. Of the visitors travelling to San Francisco, 35 percent come to the city for conventions and meetings.

“After years of planning and construction, we are happy to be opening this new convention space to our clients,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “This space will showcase what is to come when the entire Moscone Expansion Project is completed late next year. As the city and convention landscape continue to grow, it was imperative to expand the Moscone Center to meet future needs. The finished expansion will create more than 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space, contain more than 80 flexible meeting rooms, enhance the pedestrian experience and strengthen the connection to the neighborhood.”

When the final phase of the project is completed in fall 2018, the LEED Platinum-designed facility will rise above its competition as a zero-emission facility served from a zero-emission electrical grid and solar panels that generate nearly 20 percent of its energy needs. The renovated convention center is designed to save on energy and water usage.

The convention center will continue to remain open during the final phase of the project, which will construct two bridges over Howard Street, pedestrian-safety enhancements and other improvements to create a more welcoming neighborhood, in addition to the second half of the Moscone South building and Moscone North extension. The final phase will be completed within the next 16 months.”

As usual, San Francisco has a unique and creative way of doing things that makes the whole world take notice.

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