One small pleasure denied us with the decision not to hold the NAB Show in April was that we aren’t able to see the new expansion of the LVCC under construction. But when broadcasters do come back to Vegas, we won’t be able to miss it.
With nearly 2 million square feet of exhibition space, the Las Vegas Convention Center has always been a spacious facility for NAB Shows. But thanks to the $980 million expansion project now underway, the LVCC is adding 600,000 square feet of exhibition space called the West Hall, an outdoor plaza and a new grand atrium. What was spacious before will be even more vast.
The expanded LVCC will have an entrance facing the famous Las Vegas Strip. For those familiar with the city landscape, the 60-year-old Riviera Hotel and Casino was cleared to make room for this new facility.
But that’s Vegas, a one-of-a-kind destination that is constantly reinventing itself.
BIG, BIG, BIG
“Las Vegas is a city built for moments that change lives, and now we’re expanding to better serve the moments that change business,” said John S. Schreiber, vice president of business sales with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The LVCVA is the owner/operator of the LVCC.
“These additions and improvements will keep Las Vegas as a top destination for meetings, events and tradeshows.”
To put it mildly, the expanded LVCC will be huge, so huge that it will include a three-station underground loop tunnel system traversed by self-driven Tesla electric vehicles to move convention-goers around.
Las Vegas is the kind of town where a tourist can clearly see their destination but then spend half-an-hour walking towards it without making much apparent progress.
The current LVCC with its North, Central and South Halls fits into the city’s “Big, Big Big!” tradition. And when the West Hall opens in January 2021 — its first event will be CES 2021 — it will push those limits even further even by Vegas standards.
Construction of the new LVCC West Hall, outdoor plaza and grand atrium is in full swing. “The project is currently more than 70% complete,” said Schreiber in early 2020. And once it is done, the LVCVA will start renovating the current North, Central and South Halls to bring them up to the West Hall’s standards; that work is scheduled to be finished in 2023.
(Target dates in this story were gathered prior to the global coronavirus emergency but an LVCVA official said in late March that the dates remained valid so far.)
“The LVCC expansion and renovation project was designed in phases to accommodate the needs of all shows utilizing the facility with minimal disruption,” Schreiber told RW.
The work was not expected to have an effect on the 2020 show, according to Chris Brown, the NAB’s EVP of conventions and business operations. Construction was to be limited to the new West Building. “The LVCVA has done a good job of coordinating with major shows like ours to minimize the effects of their construction and renovation plans. They have set their schedule to work around the big events.”
Looking farther ahead, Brown said that he anticipated “one year of challenge” in 2022.
“We will lose access to the Central Hall as it is taken off-line to undergo much-needed renovations,” he said. “This means we will be in a situation where we will use West, North — renovated at that point — and South. So we will need to come up with supplemental transportation options to help move people between the three halls.”
The underground tunnel loop being built by Elon Musk’s Boring Company should be online by 2021.
Excavation of the first of the two vehicular tunnels was completed in February. The boring machine tunneled 40 feet underground for nearly a mile over three months, then broke through a concrete wall near the West Hall expansion. The project is designed to transport up to 4,400 convention attendees per hour.
“This is an exciting new transportation concept and will provide a highly-advanced and unique underground transport option to move people from one corner of the campus to the other using Tesla vehicles,” said Brown.
“It will ultimately move a high volume of people at rapid speeds. For instance, it will only take a couple of minutes to go from the tip of West to the tip of the South Hall.”
BIGGER, BETTER SHOWS
Once all phases of the LVCC expansion and renovation have been completed in 2023, the facility’s extra room will allow for bigger, better NAB conventions.
“We are excited about the expansion as it will not only provide access to more space, but to more flexible space,” said NAB’s Brown.
“For instance, the new West Building includes a large, centralized meeting room complex that includes great swing space and some larger room options. This opens up some possibilities for us, including moving our Main Stage programs to that area or maybe adding a second spot for larger sessions. We are also considering some creative uses of that space; perhaps using it for more experiential purposes, special demo areas, combo learning and networking areas.
“Another great feature of the new West Hall is a sizable outdoor balcony space that is perfect for receptions and other networking,” Brown added. “So we will definitely be incorporating the West Hall immediately.”
Adding more floor space potentially means more walking; would NAB add other options such as Segways, electric carts or other people movers to help delegates get around the larger LVCC more comfortably?
“Some of that will depend on how we are using the space from one year to the next,” replied Brown. “In 2022 we will likely have to consider some of these options to help facilitate flow between the buildings. The Boring system will certainly help in all scenarios, but we also understand it won’t cover the need entirely.”
Brown expressed excitement about the long-term impact.
“The plan is being undertaken not just to add the space, but to create a more modern facility with better and more flexible space. And at a point in time where we are very focused on evolving and enhancing the experience that we deliver through the NAB Show, those enhancements will have a very positive effect.
“It is also true that more space means more options for us, both in terms of what space we choose to use and how we use it. The rest, the getting around part, is all an operational challenge — and I think our team is pretty good at figuring out how to manage those challenges.”