Minneapolis Convention Center, Always Evolving

What changed at the MCC after the 2002 expansion?

As our reputation grew in the industry, the demand to host an event at the Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) increased, and by the mid-1990s, we were already outgrowing ourselves. In 1994 alone, only four years after opening, the MCC had turned away 84 major events due to lack of space. After serious discussions of expansion, which included over 30 different possible scenarios, it was decided the MCC would add 760,000 square feet on the east side of the building.  This design would fit our needs with minimal effect on the surrounding neighborhood and provide a favorable streetscape and realignment design, resulting in the lowest public improvement costs. Paying for itself in only two years, this expansion would create 5,000 jobs for the Minneapolis hospitality industry. Additionally, it would increase annual spending by an estimated $229 million to hotels, restaurants, retail, transportation and other related businesses, and $14 million in sales tax.

In 1999, with the push of a button and an explosion of earth, the groundbreaking became official! To kick off this celebration, a small but festive Hard Hat Parade marched down Nicollet Mall, led by Meet Minneapolis (at the time known as the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association). The parade also included Minneapolis City Council members and employees from the MCC and the hotel community. Fun fact: The parade was held on Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton’s birthday. She held office from 1994-2001.

What exactly was included in the expansion? 

1. 3,433 fixed-seat auditorium with three revolving rooms

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The impressive 3,433 fixed-seat auditorium was a major addition to the MCC and allowed for a new competitive advantage. Today, the lighting and sound production we use for stage performances will blow you away. The three rooms in the back of the auditorium can open into the main space, providing additional seating or can turn into their own private lecture hall. And while these rooms may look like a carnival ride, we spin them without people on board. 

2. A whole lot of exhibit hall space

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Two 99,000 square foot exhibit halls were added with the 2002 expansion. Exhibit Hall B was added to Level One, located perfectly next to Exhibit Halls C, D, and E, and added the fourth iconic dome to the architecture of the MCC. The other space, Exhibit Hall A, was added to the Lower Level. This exhibit hall differs from the other four in that it has a flat ceiling and includes an option to section off the space with built-in drapes, creating an intimate setting for larger events. Fun fact: 99,000 square feet is enough to fit almost two football fields.

3. Meeting Rooms

Thirty-nine total meeting rooms were added to the MCC in 2002. Each room can open its walls to be combined with other meeting rooms, accommodating all sizes of events. Smaller events may not need space outside of meeting rooms while many larger events that use spaces like the Exhibit Halls or Ballroom will pair their event with meeting rooms to provide breakout sessions or retail spaces. 

4. New kitchen

We love food and so do our attendees. With an expansion of this size, the events at the MCC would only get larger, so we knew that our kitchen had to provide enough space to match this new demand. With the addition of a 23,000 square foot kitchen, we were ready to cook up any amount of food! In 2005, we hosted the Microsoft World Partners Conference, which included a buffet-style meal for 12,000 people. In total, Kelber served 74,000 meals over a five-day period for this event alone.  

5. Loading docks

Do you ever wonder how over 800 cars get into the building for the Auto Show? Or how a Ferris wheel can get inside to set up in an Exhibit Hall? Loading docks, it’s all about the loading docks. This calculated unloading and loading process is vital to keeping an event setup/takedown on schedule. The expansion created 16 additional loading docks for the MCC, bringing the total to 40.