Plans for Raleigh Convention Center opening revealed

February 20, 2008 4:40:08 PM PST
Raleigh leaders are set to unveil the new convention center during a two-day event during the Raleigh Wide Open 3 street festival. The event will be held September 5-6, 2008.

"It's really exciting. This is the downtown Raleigh that we hoped would happen," Phil Zachary of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce said.

Raleigh leaders announced their grand opening plans for the Raleigh Convention Center Wednesday morning. Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Joe Bryan explains, "It's the perfect enhancement to what is now an exciting downtown."

The Raleigh Wide Open street festival started three years ago with the official re-opening of the Fayetteville Street Plaza to commuter traffic. This September, Raleigh Wide Open 3 will be coupled with the grand opening of the Raleigh Convention Center at the south end of Fayetteville Street.

Bryan adds, "Coupling these festivals with the opening, hopefully we'll have 100,000 plus people down here celebrating the opening of the convention center."

City leaders toured the incomplete 500,000-square foot convention center Tuesday. The grand opening includes a two-day extravaganza in the 150,000 square foot exhibit hall.

Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley says the $222 million dollar structure is very important as far as tourism, but it's still about a celebration from all the citizens in the area.

Leaders are trying to recruit businesses to sponsor the grand opening. They say the event will pump more life into Downtown Raleigh. "It really is going to make downtown a spectacular destination," Isley said. "It's becoming that already, but this is really going to be the icing on the cake, I think."

Eyewitness News asked Mayor Charles Meeker about the corporate sponsor for the plaza. Meeker said no one had the naming rights at this point.


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