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Opening of Expo at World Market Center signals ‘new beginning’

Updated April 9, 2021 - 7:12 pm

A new expo center in downtown Las Vegas is officially open for business, marking a first step toward recovery after conventions and trade shows came to a halt last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday afternoon, local elected officials and International Market Centers leaders are holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening.

Starting Sunday, thousands of visitors will get a first look at the new 315,000-square-foot Expo at World Market Center, as part of the five-day Las Vegas Market show. Twice a year, thousands of home and gift industry professionals come to Las Vegas to source gift, furniture, bedding, lighting, flooring and home decor from thousands of brands.

The trade show’s return will mark a milestone in Las Vegas since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than a year ago.

Bob Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers, said that the grand opening of the Expo is made possible in three years’ time because of collaboration with public and private partnership.

“Today’s ribbon-cutting celebrates the opening of this stunning state-of-the-art facility, and marks the first sign of recovery in the trade show industry, not just in Las Vegas, but in the country,” Maricich said on Friday. “Today we take the first steps towards recovery with this debut of the new facility. This three-year project represents $103.5 million investment – an investment in the city of Las Vegas.

“This is the first trade show in over a year – we’re first, ” he added. “This signals a new beginning for the Las Vegas Market here at World Market Center.”

‘Nirvana’ for smaller conventions

The new facility, at 475 S. Grand Central Parkway, which broke ground in January 2019, will provide exhibit space for the twice-a-year Las Vegas Market as well as trade shows and other events displaced by the 2017 closure of Cashman Center.

The Expo features nearly 195,000 gross square feet of exhibit space, divisible by two halls which can accommodate up to 1,000 booths. The new facility also has an expansive lobby and registration areas, shuttle bus depot, attached parking garage and food service options.

Las Vegas City Mayor Carolyn Goodman said that the Expo’s architectural design and modern look is appealing for conventions and trade shows.

“Part of the eclectic design that’s here, and you look at these buildings and the addition of this Expo, Mount Rushmore is probably beginning to cry,” Goodman said during Friday’s ceremony. “Because this truly – these buildings, truly are a monumental statement about architecture design, stick-to-itiveness and making dreams and visions happen.”

Goodman added that the Expo’s downtown location will be attractive to businesses and travelers.

“This statement for us to have this fabulous Expo here, what it means to all those who come into town, the closeness of everything in the heart of the city, besides being the place where all roads come together, makes it absolutely nirvana for smaller conventions,” she said. “People talk about it all the time, and love the warmth of what’s been created here. So today, despite the pandemic, you can feel the energy in Las Vegas: Everybody can’t wait to get started.”

Maricich added that the Expo will be a “hub for resurgence,” addressing the demand for modern convention and trade show space in downtown Las Vegas.

“I’ll be so bold to say that nowhere in the world is there a facility that combines a trade show facility with a permanent market space of five-and-a-half million square feet, parking, and all the amenities that we’re bringing to this area,” he said.

Already, the new exhibition space has attracted new business. Maricich said IMC’s Las Vegas Apparel, to be staged at the Expo in August, will complement other Fashion Week events across the city.

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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