In the final days of the National League pennant race last week, a suite at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. was filled with convention planners – hosted not by the home team Washington Nationals or visiting Atlanta Braves, but by the Connecticut Convention Center. The 17 convention planners and their guests enjoyed the playoff run of the competing teams that evening, while hearing highlights of the state-owned facility in downtown Hartford.
While it’s too soon to tell if the gambit in the nation’s capitol will bring convention business to Connecticut’s capitol, a glimpse at the upcoming calendar demonstrates that despite a continuing sluggish economy, conventions are definitely coming to town. In fact, four first-time conventions highlight the October schedule, and next month promises to be the top November for overall attendance in three years.
The first-time events slated for October, when overall attendance at programs and events is estimated to reach nearly 18,000:
- New England Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (NEHRSA)/ International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) Fall Conference & Tradeshow (October 3-4) - NEHRSA & IHRSA have joined forces to create the premier event for the health & fitness industry in the Northeast. This event will offer educational tracks for club owners & managers responsible for sales, marketing, social media, operations & fitness training. (Anticipated Attendance: 250-400 people)
- 2013 Crisis Intervention Team International Conference (October 14-16) - Crisis Intervention Team International is a non-profit membership organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate understanding, development and implementation of Crisis Intervention Team programs throughout the United States and worldwide. Its mission is to promote and support collaborative efforts to create and sustain more effective interactions among law enforcement, mental health care providers, individuals with mental illness, their families and communities, while working to reduce the stigma of mental illness. (Anticipated Attendance: 650-800 people)
- The 2013 Northeast Regional Youth Mentoring Conference (October 17-18) - The region’s only annual conference focused exclusively on supporting quality mentoring, it brings together practitioners, researchers and stakeholders in the mentoring field. This year’s theme, “Today’s Vision: Tomorrow’s Reality” focuses on the outcomes that can be achieved when a caring adult is brought into a young person’s life through quality mentoring. (Anticipated Attendance: 175-350 people)
- YMCA Celebrates Champions (October 24, 2013) - The event celebrates the “champions in our lives.” These champions surround us every day and help to make the lives of others brighter. They are parent, teachers, volunteers, mentors and others. The event benefits the many life-changing YMCA programs and services available to underserved families. The event includes dinner, program and silent and live auctions. (Anticipated Attendance: 350 people.)
During next month, attendance at all convention center events is anticipated to reach 24,000, which would exceed the 21,747 people who journeyed to the facility in November 2012 and 15,558 who visited during the month in 2011. The largest conventions scheduled for November include the National Association for Campus Activities, the American Association of School Librarians National Conference and Exhibition – expected to attract 2,000 people - and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action Annual Conference.
Since the beginning of June, in the quest to bring future conventions to the facility, representatives of the Connecticut Convention Center have participated in conference planning events in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Palm Beach, Florida.
The Connecticut Convention Center is described as the state’s premier meeting venue, and is the largest full-service convention facility between New York and Boston. Overlooking the Connecticut River in downtown Hartford, it features 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and 25,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as ample sheltered parking.
The facility – opposite the Front Street entertainment district that has recently been gaining traction- is served by more than 6,500 local area hotel rooms, including the 22-story Marriott Hartford Downtown, adjacent to the Convention Center. The venue is professionally managed for the State of Connecticut by Waterford Venue Services, an affiliate of Waterford Hotel Group.
Who’s hearing the sales pitch? Among the planners on hand for the Nats-Braves game: LaKeesha Wilson, American Association of Blacks in Energy; Adam Martin, American Public Transportation Association; Amy Gorman, United States Council of Mayors; Antoinette Dixon, American Staffing Association; Susan Cairnes, Management Solutions Plus; Marci Glavin, Helms Briscoe; Lori Kolker, Elle K Associates; Alyssa Murphy, Windrose Media; Brian Peterkin, Vertanesian-BoardSource.
This past summer, Michael Costelli, General Manager for the Connecticut Convention Center, was interviewed on TALK BUSINESS 360 regarding the facility’s operations and growth. TALK BUSINESS 360 is a talk show that educates and entertains millions of travelers by presenting one-on-one interviews with business leaders and top executives from a variety of industries. The broadcasts run on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and US Airways.