Convention Center Complex Q&A

Raleigh Convention Hotel and Downtown Development Project

C1. What is the size of the convention center?

Approximately 500,000 square feet  

C2. Who manages the convention center?

The City of Raleigh owns, operates and manages the entire convention and entertainment complex which includes the Raleigh Convention Center, Red Hat Amphitheater, and the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.

C3. Who runs the F&B at the convention center?

Centerplate Catering

C4. How large will the expansion of the convention center be?

This is still to be determined. The City is beginning an expansion study June 2022 to start exploring size and scope necessary to optimize the venue's future success. The Destination Strategic Plan proposed an expansion of up to an additional 500,000 square feet for the convention center, but nothing has been approved by City Council.

C5. What convention center capital projects are already funded?

  • A refresh of carpet, furnishings, wall coverings, paint, etc. for $6 million began in 2022. The carpet will be complete by July 2022 and the remainder is continuously progressing.
  • There are plans to optimize four separate spaces within the convention center to make the venue more flexible and  to maximize use of all areas is being bid shortly for about $5 million dollars.  
  • $30 million has been allocated to relocate the Red Hat Amphitheater in some way to allow for the convention center expansion to occur. 
  • $230 million has been planned for the expansion to begin as early as 2030.
  • Hospitality Tax revenue is committed to cover 95% of ongoing capital maintenance for the Raleigh Convention Center as part of the center’s capital maintenance plan. 

C6. In what direction will the convention center expansion occur?   

West on the site where the Red Hat Amphitheater is located.  

C7. Is there a lost business report available for the convention center?   

Yes, numbers of lost hotel room nights and direct economic impact from such is available in the full Hotel Refresh Study.

C8. Who books events at Red Hat Amphitheater?   

Live Nation and the City of Raleigh 

C9. Is there a site identified to relocate the Red Hat Amphitheater?   

Yet to be determined. 

C10. Is there out of state demand for Performing Arts Center (PAC) events?   

  • Yes. There are national events such as Dance and Cheer competitions that utilize room blocks. There are some performers and their crew who stay in hotels and also corporate meetings and association conferences that use the PAC and require room blocks (both in conjunction with the Raleigh Convention Center or separately). There are national touring performers who appear at the PAC who draw out of state guests. 
  • Additionally, we see the PAC as a stay extender, meaning if someone is already here for a conference or meeting, they may add a night for an interesting performance. 

C11. How many events take place annually at the PAC?   

About 630. 

C12. What takes place at the PAC during the day?   

Often there are school performances, matinee performances, rehearsals and corporate/association meetings. 

C13. Is the RCC operator contract terminable and assignable to the hotel developer?    

The Raleigh Convention Center is operated by the City, not a private operator, and the City has no present intention to consider private management for the facility or assignment to the hotel developer. 

C14. Is there a project that the City considers to be the, or an example of, the inspiration for what it wants with this hotel project?    

Quality design is a priority for City Council.  Rather than point to an example, the City seeks innovative design from a team that can show how the project design incorporates a transformational and aspirational vision and identifies with Raleigh’s culture and history.  Additionally, the designs should be iconic in their contribution to the skyline of Raleigh and represent the ambitions of a modern, southern city.  Further design guidance can be found in the Comprehensive Plan, Section 15.7 Urban Design in Downtown Raleigh.  

C15. Have surveys from convention guests been conducted to identify their desired level of quality, services, amenities, room rates, etc. at the new convention hotel?    

Not specifically. However meeting planners were part of the Destination Strategic Plan research both in 2018 and the refresh in 2022. HVS Downtown Hotel Study (2015) showed those surveyed clearly indicated that a full service, high quality hotel was needed to support the convention center and not a select/limited service hotel.    

C16. Who are the City’s aspirational competitive cities once the proposed convention hotel opens? Once the Raleigh Convention Center expands?   

  • Once convention hotel opens – Louisville, Pittsburgh, Providence, Portland, Austin, as well as big box hotels like Gaylord Nashville, Atlanta Hyatt, and Charlotte Westin for example.  
  • The competitive set remains the same because we are short hotel rooms presently, so this project will make us more competitive with these markets.   
  • Once convention center expansion is completed – with a new hotel coupled with the expansion of the center, we would hope to be more competitive with Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and possibly Orlando and San Diego for some of their smaller to medium events. 

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Executive Vice President, JLL

Budget and Management Services