The new convention center in downtown Albany -- the Albany Capital Center -- officially opened Wednesday.
The $78 million project on Eagle Street has been in the works for a long time, stretching back to an earlier, larger plan at a site on the southern edge of downtown.
The idea is for the new convention center -- at the spot on Eagle -- is to provide a tourism boost not just on its own, but in conjunction with the TU Center and Empire State Plaza, to which it's connected to both by an enclosed walkway.
Here's a look around the new venue, along with a few details...
Look up: photos are at the top in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.
A few details
+ The Albany Capital Center site is on Eagle Street, about a block south of the Capitol. It's roughly halfway between the Empire State Plaza and the Times Union Center. It's connected to both facilities by an enclosed walkway. (It's the walkway that was already there -- it's getting some upgrades.) It's also connected the Renaissance Hotel (and parking garage) across Howard Street.
+ Totaled up together, the three venues include approximately 160,000 square feet of space for events.
+ The overall convention center project cost is $78 million, the funding for which was allocated to the project by the state.
+ The convention center itself is about 60,000 square feet total.
+ Its spaces include meeting rooms, a multipurpose ballroom space, pre-meeting spaces, and a 3,000-square-foot catering kitchen.
+ The ballroom is really big -- 22,500 square feet with a 26-foot ceiling. It can sit 4,000 people for a meeting-style event, and 1,800 for a banquet.
Part of the reason for the design was so that the space could also be used for athletic events -- it can fit three full-size basketball courts -- with the goal of luring NCAA tournaments to town.
+ The "pre-meeting" spaces include local history-themed murals designed by Dahl Taylor.
+ It includes an underground garage with 130 parking spaces.
+ The convention center will be able to hold more than 5,000 people at one time across all its spaces.
+ The first public event is the MAAC-n-Cheese Festival this Friday in conjunction with the MAAC basketball tournament at the TU Center.
+ Officials say there are already about 70 events booked for this year.
As mentioned above, this project has long roots. Former Albany mayor Jerry Jennings was a persistent advocate of the idea and he was at the ribbon cutting Wednesday, getting multiple shout-outs from officials, including current mayor Kathy Sheehan.
The Capital Complex
image: Albany Capital Center
Moving the convention center project to Eagle Street site meant reducing its size. But it also allowed the facility to be connected to the Empire State Plaza and the TU Center. When those three venues are considered together -- "The Capital Complex" -- they include about 160,000 square feet of event space.
The idea is that this complex of venues will be big enough and flexible enough to attract a wide range of events, including smaller national conventions.
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