Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need to be planning a large-scale meeting or event to justify the use of a large-scale event center. While smaller centers and hotels make immediate sense for smaller events, bigger complexes exist exclusively for events of any size.
Convention centers are incredibly versatile, and they can accommodate groups with as few as five attendees to groups of thousands. The choices available for event spaces at these centers can be extremely convenient for planners looking for unique and comprehensive options for single day meetings or week-long events.
These centers also have state-of-the-art technology for their meeting rooms, virtually indestructible WiFi connections and chances are good that if a piece of equipment does malfunction during your event, they have several more on hand ready to replace it.
Hotels and standard-sized venues do offer out-of-towners the added convenience of on-site accommodation, but larger spaces such as convention centers team up with partnered or connected hotels.
Their centralized locations put event attendees near city attractions and are well-serviced by public transportation. Check out a few Northwest convention centers that have it all, and more.
WASHINGTON STATE CONVENTION CENTER
Located in downtown Seattle, the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) is a premier location for meetings and events of all sizes. The WSCC and The Conference Center (within the WSCC) is the largest meeting and event complex in Washington state, comprising 72 meeting rooms and a total of 414,722 square feet of meeting and event space. For special events, the WSCC has an arched glass canopy over an 11,000-square-foot space.
Lighting, presentation technology and on-site audiovisual and electrical support and services are provided by the complex for groups of 20 to upwards of 8,000 people. Complete food and beverage service can be provided throughout events, and during breaks event attendees can visit one of the restaurants on the building’s ground floor. The center’s 1.5 acres of plaza space connects to 5 acres of Seattle city park and gives guests the opportunity to stretch their legs.
For attendees with cars, the Convention Center has nearly 1,500 covered parking spaces and is conveniently located just off of I-5, 25 minutes North of SeaTac International Airport. It’s just a few walkable blocks away from public transportation at Westlake Station as well. Guests in town for multi-day events have 10,000 hotel guest rooms to choose from within walking distance of the complex.
OREGON CONVENTION CENTER
A short drive, walk, or a quick ride on the Portland MAX Light Rail from Union Station, and 20 minutes from the Portland International Airport, the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) offers detailed attention to groups both large and small. Located next to I-5 in downtown Portland, Oregon, the OCC is well-connected and well-equipped. The center has 50 meeting rooms with 18-foot-high ceilings, two exhibit halls, 255,000 square feet of connected exhibit space and 2 large ballrooms.
The Portland Ballroom totals 34,200 square feet and is divisible into eight sections, including a lobby. The Oregon Ballroom is 25,200 square feet, divisible into four sections. These four sections are regularly used as breakout rooms for larger groups. The OCC provides on-site lighting, sound, video and design services for groups renting any of their spaces.
The two exhibit halls are served by concessions, but guests can also head downstairs to the Stir Bistro and Lounge in the lobby for a meal or try one of the two Portland Roasting Coffee cafés for a quick bite. Event attendees have an easy commute from the OCC to other dining options and many of Portland’s main attractions. Across the Willamette River, The Portland Saturday Market, Voodoo Donuts and Powell’s Books tempt visitors to explore.
The OCC is a unique forerunner in environmental consciousness for a facility of its size. A quarter of its electricity is produced by more than 6,500 solar panels that are installed on the center, and it is LEED certified and Salmon-Safe certified.
Currently, the OCC is planning exciting new renovations that will be unveiled over the next few years. Several hotels stand within walking distance, and a 600-room Hyatt Regency hotel is planned to open across the street in 2020 for even closer access to the OCC.
SPOKANE CONVENTION CENTER
Originally built to host the World’s Fair Expo in 1974 and currently in a 20-year growth project, the Spokane Convention Center has an impressive history and bright future.
Alongside the south bank of the Spokane River, it comprises nearly 400,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate five to 2,500 attendees. This includes 50,750 square feet of ballroom space between three ballrooms and 40 breakout rooms.
An all-in-one facility, the Spokane Convention Center also houses a 270-seat conference theater, a 2,683-seat performing arts center and Outdoor Marquis with a floating stage. This vast diversity in their spaces makes any event possible.
Part of the most recent expansion in 2015 includes a new executive wing. The wing has several rooms, its own lobby, a patio and lawn. It is an ideal rental option for smaller groups. The wing has views of the river, and one of its rooms has a fireplace.
On-site technical and audiovisual services and equipment are available for meetings and events, as well as exemplary catering.
The search for a place to stay is made easy, as 1,100 hotel rooms are connected to the convention center and several more hotels are within walking distance. Recreation can be found within sight of the center along the Spokane River and into Riverfront Park.
Boise Centre is a welcoming convention center for local and visiting groups. The Grove Plaza sits between its two wings; a patio presents the perfect opportunity for enjoying breaks and nearby parks help guests unwind after a long day.
The Centre has recently undergone several expansions. In 2016, Boise Centre East opened, adding eight breakout rooms, a new ballroom and 36,000 square feet to the facility. Next to the ballroom a two-story lobby looks out over The Grove Plaza. The following expansion, completed in 2017, connected Boise Centre and Boise Centre East via a concourse that wraps around The Grove Plaza. The last expansion finished shortly thereafter, adding a new junior ballroom, executive boardroom and the outdoor patio.
Boise Centre now comprises 86,000 square feet total of meeting and conference space, including its 31 meetings rooms of varying size. The largest meeting space is their Grand Ballroom, which is 24,426 square feet and divisible into three separate sections. In-house audiovisual, full-service catering, décor and staging, technical support and more are available to groups. The new executive ballroom has video conferencing capability.
At the end of an early day, meeting and event attendees at Boise Centre have the whole of downtown Boise a few steps away. Ann Morrison Park and the Boise River Green Belt beckon from down the street on warm and sunny days. Zoo Boise is an ideal afternoon excursion for both continued teambuilding and for attendees who are traveling with their families.
Eight hotels and even more dining options are within walking distance of Boise Centre, and Boise Airport is just 10-15 minutes away by car.
Washington State Convention Center
Michael McQuade, director of sales
Oregon Convention Center
Cindy Wallace, CMP, CMM, director of sales and marketing
Spokane Convention Center
Jessica Deri, director of sales and marketing
Ali Ribordy, director of sales