It’s no secret most North Americans want an excuse to visit St. John’s, and now they can use business trips as an excuse: The $70 million dollar St. John’s Convention Centre is completed and has had its grand opening.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe says “the support from our Federal and Provincial Government partners in funding this facility has been instrumental. We look forward to hosting and entertaining delegates from around the world here in the heart of downtown.” And they’ll be conventions big and frequent enough to pump some well-needed dollars into local businesses.
Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, sees the nation’s investment in our convention centre as part of the federal government’s initiative to “build strong, inclusive and sustainable communities across the country” and “a wonderful example of public infrastructure that connects people, creates jobs, and supports economic development.”
So, how big is the thing? It has 10 meeting rooms, a “state-of-the-art kitchen,” a large ballroom, and a junior ballroom, with a combined capacity for up to 1,700 guests. Room names throughout the facility are dedicated to familiar public spaces in St.John’s, so, visitors to the city can make a checklist of spots to visit simply by reading doors in the building, like the Bowring Ballroom or Bannerman Ballroom for instance.
Its variety of rooms, and room sizes was intentional, for taglines like “big or small, we’re flexible: customize your conference space” and “Plenty of room, Endless Possibilities.” It’s a truly full-service conference facility, from catering services to security.
Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, expressed the point that, in addition to the convention centre being of positive economic benefit to the city, it’ll also be good for locals in terms of professional development, networking, and general schmoozing with the kinds of people and events the convention centre will bring to our relatively isolated island.
None of what these politicians are spouting is vacant politi-babble. St. John’s has been a popular convention location for years, but by not having an ample-sized convention centre, we were limiting the city’s potential for convention-based boosts to the local economy, and the degree of aforementioned liasoning we could achieve here through conventions.
Until now, cities like Moncton or Charlottetown were housing the biggest Atlantic-based conventions, or were able to host a few smaller ones at the same time, whereas we couldn’t and lost this business to them. The new SJCC has nearly tripled capacity: we can host 1700 now, not just 600; we have 10 rooms now; not 2. No figures exist publicly for how much more we’ll make on account of the upsizing, but in theory, more CFAs will be here for conventions than ever before. Fifteen major conventions have already been booked.