Twelve years in the making (10 in planning, two in construction), New York’s Albany Capital Center opened March 1, playing host to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. Following the MAAC, the ACC will host its first convention, the New York State Council for the Social Studies annual conference, March 22-25, bringing 450 attendees to Albany.
The $78.5 million Albany Capital Center is directly behind Times Union Center, host of the city’s major events since 1990. Connected by covered walkways to both Times Union Center and Empire State Plaza Convention Center, the Capital Center adds 82,000 square feet of event space to create the Capital Complex. Combined, the facilities comprise 159,000 square feet of event space, the most in upstate New York. Three levels of underground parking provide access to more than 1,000 spaces.
The center already has 62 events on the books for 2017 (and 28 more through 2021). Doug McClaine, the venue’s general manager, says he anticipates more than 200 events in the center’s third year of operation. This year’s events alone will fill 3,750 hotel room nights; 3,200 represent new business in Albany. Upcoming scheduled events include the Capital Region Human Resource Association conference and the Empire State Society of Association Executives Annual Conference and Trade Show.
SMG was hired by the Albany Convention Center Authority to manage the center. The company projects that over the next three years, the ACC will welcome more than 150,000 attendees, resulting in an estimated $36 million in visitor spending for the capital region over the same time period. It’s also expected to produce nearly $1 million in combined fiscal benefit annually for New York, Albany County and the City of Albany.
Albany’s central Northeast location (about a three-hour drive from Boston and New York City) makes it an attractive destination for regional meetings and events. It has a thriving restaurant and culinary scene, plus more than 1,000 downtown hotel rooms and 5,000 in Albany County.
“We have tremendous history here with the state capital and the New York State Museum within easy walking distance from the Capital Center,” says McClaine. “We’re very excited about the future.”