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New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center $557M Capital Improvement Plan Progresses

NEW ORLEANS, LA — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which will transform the facility and support the destination in being more competitive, is progressing. Conceptual renderings show the “immersive interventions” under consideration, including the addition of a third level with flexible, multi-purpose space that has a view of the Mississippi River. Designs for the renovations to the convention center’s 140 meeting rooms and public spaces, all of which are intended to celebrate elements of New Orleans’ culture, are further along.

“We are very pleased with the progress towards making the balance of our Capital Improvement Plan come closer to reality. With the selection of AECOM Hunt/Broadmoor we have an incomparable team with the design firms of Populous and Nano LLC," said Convention Center President Michael J. Sawaya. “The renderings exemplify our vision for this project and put us on the right track to continue the transformative process of making the convention center a gathering place for all.”

In June 2021, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority selected AECOM Hunt/Broadmoor, a joint venture between a global infrastructure consulting firm and New Orleans-based construction company, as its Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the final planning, development, and construction of the major upgrades remaining for the $557-million CIP approved in 2018. Since that time, the center has worked with Populous, a global architectural design firm specializing in creating environments and venues, and New Orleans-based architect Nano LLC, to develop designs for these projects, with input from the center’s Client Advisory Council.  

The CIP has already delivered a 7.5-acre pedestrian park, the renovation of all 35 sets of the facility’s restrooms, installation of New Orleans neighborhood-themed charging stations, the upgrade to all new energy efficient LED exhibit hall lighting, internal infrastructure improvements such as an informational technology overhaul, and physical plant renovations including four new chillers, two new cooling towers, six boilers, and a new systems monitoring station. The convention center is projected to begin the $40-million roof replacement project in Q3 2022.  

“It is encouraging to see our vision coming to life,” said Exhibition Hall Authority President Jerry Reyes. “These improvements and enhanced amenities will be beneficial for visitors and residents alike and make New Orleans more competitive in the national event and meeting marketplace. The more meetings and events NOENMCC can host, the greater the economic impact we will be on the city and region.”

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CMAR is a project delivery system that entails a commitment by the construction manager to deliver the project within a guaranteed maximum price. The construction manager acts as consultant to the owner in the development and design phases and as the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase. It binds the company to a negotiated budget and construction performance. They are chosen under a strict process defined by the State of Louisiana based on qualifications and team experience, rather than a low bid. Although this is a relatively new process for the state of Louisiana, CMAR has already become well known with projects such as the Capital Region I-10 widening project and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space, in an entirely contiguous hall, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center provides the largest single exhibit space in the country and is the sixth largest convention center in the nation. A leading contributor to the city’s tourism economy, the convention center’s event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s (Authority) exclusive mission is to finance, construct, and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows, and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, 10 appointed by the Governor of Louisiana, and three appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans.

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