REPORTING FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) has unveiled its largest and most significant expansion in nearly two decades, ACC North. The massive new building is 200,000 sq. ft. which, combined with the rest of ACC, makes the venue one of the few 1 million-plus square footage meeting spaces in North America and the largest on the West Coast. The expansion cost $190 million.

The 22,000-capacity venue was designed by Populous. The two-story facility features 100,000 sq. ft. of column free space on the top level; a 10,000-sq.-ft. balcony which overlooks Disneyland; rigging points spaced 10×10 on each level and pre-function space with more than 2,000 rigging points; 25 ft. ceilings; a 12,000-sq.-ft. kitchen with 6,000-banquet capacity; 1,400 panes of glass; and 1,350 new parking spaces.

Tom Morton, executive director, Anaheim Convention, Sports and Entertainment Department.

“This is a transformative event for the Anaheim Convention Center,” said Tom Morton, executive director of Anaheim’s Convention, Sports & Entertainment Department. “Not only is it our biggest expansion since 2000; it’s also one of the most significant in terms of the features and innovations it brings to Anaheim.”

“With the expansion, the complex is now at 1.8 million sq. ft.,” said Morton. “We can accommodate almost anything. With several major hotels nearby, and all our sunshine, this makes Anaheim the perfect place to bring an event.”

“The interior is designed to evoke the skin of a palm tree trunk,” said Morton. “The use of warm materials and natural daylight provide a pleasant and comfortable experience.”

“This is a historical moment for the Anaheim Convention Center and the city of Anaheim,” said Jay Burress, president & CEO, Visit Anaheim. “ACC delivers on the vision we had to build a modern, expansive space that can be completely customizable for a variety of industries and meeting planner needs. This beautiful new space considerably adds to our current offerings and ability to attract more groups to choose Anaheim.”

Ground broke April 21, 2015. The grand opening of the building, Sept. 26, comes on the heels of ACC and the rest of the Anaheim entertainment district setting a new visitor volume for the fourth year in a row. The area hosted 23 million visitors, up 2.4 percent from the previous year, of which 5.8 percent were international visitors. The economic impact to the district last year was a staggering $8.1 billion.

“Four years in a row of surpassing visitor volume and spending records makes it clear that tourism is a key factor in the economic success and prosperity of our local community,” said Burress. “The strength of our local tourism is clearly evident by the positive domestic and international visitor growth, coupled with new hotel development. We anticipate that the next few years will continue to prove the positive economic impact tourism has on local development and the economy.”

Four new hotels are being readied close to ACC. A new $150 million, 466-room JW Marriott is being built adjacent to Anaheim Garden Walk. Replacing the Anaheim Plaza & Suites will be a 580-room property. A $225 million, 600-room hotel will replace the Anabella Hotel, which is adjacent to ACC and Disney is building a new 700-room luxury hotel, the first in nearly 20 years.

“Our hotel partners are terrific,” said Morton. “There is an abundance of places to stay within walking distance of ACC, which sets us apart from a lot of other convention centers.”

ACC currently hosts nearly one million attendees a year. ACC North already has over 75 events booked, including the American Heart Association, Oncology Nursing Society, Society for Science & the Public, and International Society for Technology in Education.

“We’re well on our way,” added Morton. “We’re off to a great start, and I expect it to grow as word catches on about our new addition.”