A New York State of Mind

If you’ve got a big meeting and you want to hold it in the Big Apple, you need big space. With 760,000-square-feet of exhibit space, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has been doing it’s best to fill that need. Although nationwide the Javits Center ranks first in attendance and second in number of shows among all convention centers, it ranks 18th in overall capacity – a fact that will soon change.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced that the Javits Center is scheduled for a major expansion as part of the city’s plan to create a convention corridor on Manhattan’s West Side.

The new convention corridor will be expanded to 1. 1 million square feet of exhibit space, 256,000 square feet of meeting rooms (up from about 23,000 square feet today) and 86,000 square feet of new ballroom space. A portion of the exhibit space will be housed in the planned New York Sports and Convention Center, a facility that will serve as both a 75,000-seat stadium and a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall and be home to the New York Jets and, Bloomberg hopes, the 2012 Olympics.

The numbers support the expansion. As a result of its capacity, the Javits Center has had to turn away bookings representing 800,000 room nights over the next five years. It also lacks meeting room space. Its ratio of more than 18 square feet of exhibit space to one square foot of meeting room space falls far short of its primary competitors, which have ratios of 5:1 or less. “We are turning away almost as much business as we can book and clearing space into the year 2025,” said Javits Center Chairman Robert Boyle following Bloomberg’s announcement of the convention corridor. “That is why we are so thankful that our expansion is a major part of the redevelopment of Manhattan’s West Side.” When completed in 2010 the convention corridor will stretch from 30th Street to 42nd Street along 11th Avenue.