Updated: Jul 15
It's no secret that Jacksonville needs a new convention center. The city is missing out on millions in convention dollars each year, and a new facility could capitalize on the thriving downtown. Business leaders have long railed against the Prime Osborn convention center's location on the edge of downtown.
Exhibition hall space is limiting
Exhibition hall space is a key component of a successful business convention, and the city has several assets that can be leveraged to increase event space. For example, the city has invested $21 million in public incentives to build a new convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. This full-service convention hotel is centralized and just a few blocks from downtown Jacksonville's entertainment district. It has 116,000 square feet of centralized meeting space, several restaurants, and an expansive riverfront deck.
The city's current convention center is outdated and undersized. It was once the largest train station in the south. The city has hoped to build a new facility that will meet modern standards for a convention center. A study was commissioned by the city to determine what type of convention center Jacksonville should build. It made several design recommendations. The city then held an official design competition, evaluating bidders based on how well they met the recommendations.
To attract more business conventions to Jacksonville, the city needs a better image. The downtown area is dull and lackluster and many convention planners avoid it because of this. To improve its image, the city needs to develop an experience-based approach to the convention process. One way to do this is to develop a new convention center downtown.
The prime Osborn Hotel is a good location for a convention. It's near Interstate 10 and 95 and is close to downtown Jacksonville. It's also convenient for people traveling to and from the area. Besides, members of the American Marketing Association in Jacksonville get discounts for their memberships.
Need to raise profile to attract business conventions
Jacksonville needs to improve its image among business convention planners to attract more of them. The downtown area is drab and lifeless. A new convention center downtown could capitalize on this vibrant scene and draw more business conventions to Jacksonville. With the lack of a modern and exciting downtown, Jacksonville is missing out on millions of dollars in convention revenue. But how do you reposition a city like Jacksonville?
For one, Jacksonville is home to the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center, which is nearly full. Eighty percent of its space is booked. The facility is a local meeting place and has hosted numerous events. The city's economic appeal is another draw for businesses and other organizations.