Groundbreaking heralds convention center expansion project

Gov. Brian Sandoval, second from right, looks on as Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of Consumer Technology Association, addresses the audience during the Las Vegas Convention Center Phase Two expansion groundbreaking ceremony on the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Jan. 8, 2017.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority broke ground Monday on the 1.4 million-square-foot expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center with a flashy ceremony featuring showgirls, a Las Vegas entertainer and fireworks on the site of the now demolished Riviera.

The expansion will cost $860 million and is the second phase of a complete revamp of the entire convention center. The first was the purchase and destruction of the Riviera. Construction of the third phase, a $540 million renovation of the existing convention space, will begin in 2020.

During the ceremony, hosted by longtime Las Vegas entertainer Clint Holmes, politicians and convention officials touted the expansion's economic benefits to Southern Nevada, including keeping existing and attracting new convention clients and directly employing 13,000 people to build the new facility and 8,000 to help run it.

President of the LVCVA Rossi Ralenkotter said the groundbreaking marked the start of construction and also the end of a long process. “Getting to this day has taken quite a journey, almost 12 years,” he said.

LVCC Phase Two Expansion Groundbreaking

From left: Bill Noonan-Senior Vice President of Industry and Government Affairs at Boyd Gaming, Carolyn G. Goodman Mayor of Las Vegas, Lawrence Weekly Chairman of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors & Clark County Commissioner, Rossi Ralenkotter President & CEO Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Brian Sandoval Nevada Governor, Gary Shapiro President & CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CES), Steve Sisolak Clark County Commission Chairman, Chuck Bowling President & COO of Mandalay Bay and Larry Brown Clark County Commissioner break ground during the Las Vegas Convention Center Phase Two expansion groundbreaking ceremony on the Las Vegas Strip where the Riviera Casino once stood, Monday, Jan. 8, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Ralenkotter said the expansion is the latest example of an even longer vision, that of George “Bud” Albright who in the mid-1950s was the chairman of the LVCVA’s predecessor, the Clark County Fair and Recreation Board.

By conceiving the idea of using a room tax to fund a convention center, Ralenkotter said, “Bud Albright pulled that all together.”

The current expansion and revamp was financed by an increase in that same room tax passed during a special session of the Nevada Legislature in 2016. That same increase is also funding, in part, the construction of the new NFL stadium that will house the Las Vegas Raiders.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, also a member of the LVCVA Board that approved the expansion and the design of the new facility, joked that had it been up to her, 100 percent of the room tax increase would have gone toward the convention center and none to the stadium.