Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2024

Meet the Top-Ranked U.S. Convention Centers

The Wall Street Journal recently ranked the 30 largest convention centers in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Las Vegas scored three of the top spots. Here’s a look at some of the top-ranked centers, along with what qualifications the WSJ used to compile its list.

A new report by the Wall Street Journal ranks the top 30 largest convention centers in the U.S. Considering factors such as the quality of space and amenities — worth 70% of the total overall score — the WSJ also considered things like vibrancy, weather and walkability of the area near the center as well as the city overall. The space and amenities score includes data about the total area, including outdoor space, the square footage of exhibit space, and the number of meeting rooms. The factors also included things such as how far the center is from the airport, the availability of onsite ATMs, and, a bit weirdly, the center’s proximity to the nearest dry cleaner.

At the top of the overall list was the Las Vegas Convention Center, whose 4.6 million square feet of space, 225 meeting rooms, and nearby 150,000 guest rooms made it hard to compete with. Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, not surprisingly came in at the top for space, amenities and convenience, though it took the number-two slot in the overall rankings. Las Vegas’ 1.2 million-square-foot The Venetian Convention and Expo Center placed third in the overall rankings, though its 350 meeting rooms pushed it to first place for the meeting rooms category. The fourth overall ranking spot went to the San Diego Convention Center, though it placed first for the city and surrounding area category. In fifth place overall was Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

Here are the top 10 in overall rankings:

However, it’s vital to consider what’s most important to your individual group — a center that scored toward the bottom of the list may be the perfect fit for your event. For example, the International Exposition Center in Cleveland may not have been able to compete with other centers of the number of meeting rooms or hotel availability, but it has great accessibility to the airport and the food is affordable. San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center’s relatively small size hurt it in the overall rankings, where it came in 23rd, but it was at the top of the list in arts and entertainment and food availability and affordability. If hotel availability is a key issue, Washington, D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center could be a good fit as it ranked at the top of the hotel availability category.

As always, the key to finding the right fit is knowing what is important to your group — even if it’s proximity to a dry cleaner (something Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center excelled at, along with walkability).

 

 

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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