ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.
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BIG VENUES small cities with By Selena Chavis YouÕve heard it said that big things come in small packages. Groups are increasingly finding that second- and third-tier markets across the South offer unique appeal and inherent advantages. And many have the infrastructure and space to support large groups of several thousand. Along with such advantages as quaint, walkable downtowns and historic charm, many smaller cities also boast some of the best Òbang for your buckÓ around when it comes to room and board costs. Meeting planners can consider some of the small cities featured here for big space, big value and small town attractiveness. 105,000 sq.ft. space Fayetteville, N.C. • Population: 205,000 ÒFayetteville residents live its tagline of history, heroes and a hometown feeling nicely,Ó said Melody Foote with the Fayetteville Area CVB. Just as residents are proud to call Fayetteville their hometown, groups from across the world flock to the city and its expansive Crown Center, which is so big it has 4,375 lighted parking spaces and space for nine tractor-trailers. 10,800 max capacity 72,010 sq.ft. space 8,000 max capacity 165,230 sq.ft. space 9,500 Tupelo, Miss. • max Population: capacity 37,000 Elvis PresleyÕs humble beginnings began in Tupelo. The old hardware store where he got his first guitar is still in business. But this small town goes big when it comes to meetings at itÕs BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center. ÒSome meetings can be a real circus, and thatÕs ok, we can handle it; Ringling Brothers uses our space every year!Ó said Sean Johnson, marketing director with the Tupelo CVB. 14 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ J U L Y 2 0 1 3 Lake Charles, La. • Population: 194,000 The people in Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana treat visitors like family, said the CVBÕs Angie Manning. ÒDuring crawfish season, weÕll teach you how to peel them, and during gumbo season, weÕll keep on serving until the last gumbo pot runs dry!Ó That same philosophy caries into meetings at The Lake Charles Civic Center, which offers sweeping views of Lake Charles. (Legend has it that pirate Jean Lafitte buried treasure somewhere along the shores of Lake Charles.) w w w. c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m