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Boston plans venue sell-off to fund expansion of convention centre

City leaders in Boston, USA, hope to fund a significant expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) by selling off another of the city’s major meeting venues.

The Baker-Polito Administration is planning to sell the Hynes Convention Center, in Boston’s Back Bay neighbourhood, to ‘consolidate’ the city’s convention business in one location.

The Administration plans to file legislation authorizing the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) to sell the Hynes property, with the proceeds of the sale set aside for the BCEC expansion project. The legislation will authorize the MCCA to undertake the BCEC expansion.

“Boston is a popular convention destination, and there has been  demand for larger, more flexible event space in recent years. This expansion will meet demand, unlock greater economic potential, and support the creation of jobs,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito added: “This proposal will enable the BCEC to meet the changing demand for meeting and convention space in Boston without imposing an excessive burden on taxpayers, while at the same time making room for the creative transformation of a large and important section of the Back Bay neighborhood.”

The BCEC opened in 2004 and outperforms national occupancy figures for similar venues. The expanded centre will aim to capture greater market share for large multi-day conventions and accommodate bookings that might have gone to the Hynes.

The Hynes opened in 1963, and was rebuilt in 1988. The facility is in need of major capital investments — estimated at $200 million over the next 10 years to maintain its current state.

The plan will consolidate Boston’s large and small event business in a single, larger, more flexible space with an efficient and fiscally responsible approach. The legislation authorizes 200,000 square feet of additional space, which is expected to include a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall; a 60,500-square-foot ballroom; and 44,000 square feet in additional meeting rooms.

MCCA employees who work at the Hynes will have the option of moving to the expanded BCEC.

“The Authority’s mission is to facilitate regional economic activity and we are excited at the opportunity to further strengthen the BCEC’s competitive position in the global meetings and events industry,” said John McDonnell, chairman of the board of the MCCA. “The proposed expansion will ensure that the MCCA is meeting the needs of our customers and continuing to attract high quality convention business to the BCEC, and Boston, for years to come.”