How Does the MCC Compete Technologically?
Staying updated with the latest technologies is a necessary way to stay relevant and competitive in a quickly evolving industry. It’s not always easy, or cheap, but it will make or break any convention center. The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) has a team that is dedicated to surveying the industry and foreseeing major advances heading down the convention center pipeline. It’s important to know what technologies should be adapted, what can wait, and what is simply a passing trend. Being owned and operated by the City of Minneapolis, the MCC takes this fiscal responsibility extremely seriously and selects only the best to be added to the facility. This selective procedure has allowed us to compete and win major bids for events such as the Super Bowl (2018), NCAA Final Four (2019), and MLB All-Star Game (2014).
One of the most significant technological enhancements added to the MCC in recent years were 800 feet of digital display screens strategically located throughout the building. Completed in 2017, these digital displays provide a superior wayfinding system for attendees, helping to guide people to their event, bus shuttles, Craft Bar & Lounge, coat check, and more. And with 1.6 million square feet, this tool is extremely beneficial. It also allows clients to add their logos and additional information to the spaces they’re occupying and provides added sponsorship opportunities. The MCC technology coordinator works closely with each client to develop and implement a layout that works best for their event. They have the knowledge to understand attendee route patterns and which displays are best suited for wayfinding vs. logo/sponsorship graphics. The in-house technology team then oversees all digital content scheduling, execution, and monitoring.
The Auditorium at the MCC is absolutely brilliant. It features 3,433 fixed seats with the capability to spin three lecture halls located at the back of the room into their own private spaces, seating 430 people each. It’s only fitting that a space this remarkable is paired with high-end lighting and sound to amplify every event – from graduations with former President Bill Clinton, to rock concerts with Skillet and performances by Sonu Nigam & Neha Kakkar.
The Ballroom hosts similar lighting and sound capabilities as the Auditorium. This space also features built-in trusses to hang additional lighting and sound options as well as a built-in stage and dressing room. The room itself has the capability to transform into two spaces using an air wall. This feature is especially beneficial for banquets that need the ballroom setup but within a smaller space, and for dance competitions that use the separated space in the back as a large dressing room for the performers while using the main space with the stage for the competition. Plus, the ceiling coves are lined with LED lighting that can be custom designed for each event.
There are five total Exhibit Halls at the MCC. Exhibit Hall A, which is located on the lower level is different than the other four occupying level one. Like the Ballroom, Hall A can transform into a smaller, more intimate space using a motorized curtain. Unlike the other halls, Hall A’s flat ceiling and lighting offers a unique industrial-chic aesthetic. Halls B-E boast the notorious domes that are seen from the outside and in the Minneapolis skyline. Each dome is lined with 84 LED lights which offer over 16.7 million color options, all of which can be controlled by one lighting console. Events have used this lighting from simple mono-colors to full light shows. Check out this event where the dome lights transform from day sky to a sunset followed by the night sky.
The lighting and sound systems at the MCC, specifically in the Auditorium, are on par with modern concert technology worldwide. This same technology can be found in major theaters and venues such as Target Center, Capitol Theatre in New York, Pepsi’s Half Time Show, and Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts. Our sound system includes L Acoustics speakers which are paired with either a DiGiCo SD9 or Midas Pro2 console. In addition to Vari-Lite and Clay Paky, our lighting system features Ayrton luminaires, offering superior LED capabilities – all of which are conducted using a grandMA Full console.
While the technologies we offer are truly spectacular, almost anyone can own a high-quality speaker box or sound system, but at the end of the day, it’s the people behind the equipment that will elevate an event from spectacular to extraordinary. And that’s where the MCC stands out from the crowd.
The production technicians at the MCC all come from theatrical, sound lighting, and concert backgrounds. There are people on the crew who have toured around the world and worked with bands such as the Beastie Boys, Life House, The Commodores, Prince, The Suburbs, and other major national touring acts from the 1970s to the 2000s. These team members are passionate, dedicated, and incredibly knowledgeable in their field. They continuously strive to perfect their art and stay current with the latest professional advances – reading books and manuals, and experimenting hands-on with the lighting and sound systems to find new ways to improve a set and bring the most out of each space. They work with clients to ensure their vision will be met from the most basic requests to the most extravagant. The production team at the MCC is what really sets the stage to being world-class.