NOV 2018

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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Page 43 of 67

⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 44 Alabama E V E N T P L A N N E R ' S G U I D E T O AL B I R M I N G H A M R A I L R O A D P A R K A 19-acre green space in downtown Bir- mingham, Railroad Park celebrates the city's industrial and artistic heritage. A joint effort between the City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation, it has been hailed as "Birmingham's Living Room," and provides a historically rich venue for recreation, family activities, concerts, and cultural events, while connecting Birming- ham's downtown area with Southside and UAB's campus. D. FRAN MORLEY Alabama offers planners "several states in one," with choices that include everything from lake retreats to four-diamond properties and more, said Brian Jones with Alabama Tourism. The state's travel industry grew by $1 billion in 2017, to a record of $14.3 billion in expenditures, and the growth is likely to continue with the addition of new attractions and improvements, including the $32 million renovation of The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection in Point Clear. Birmingham Alabama's largest city offers planners a wide variety of unique meeting and event venues, according to Dilcy Hilley, vice president marketing and communications for the Greater Birmingham CVB. The city's largest space is the Birming- ham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in the city center. The campus has 350,000 square feet of exhibition space and 90 meeting rooms, along with the 18,000-seat Legacy Arena and 4,000 seats in two theaters. In addition, two hotels share the campus: the 757-room Sher- aton Birmingham (connected to the BJCC by covered skywalk) and the 294-room Westin Birmingham. (See breakout spotlight on page 48 for more information.) The BJCC is located 10 minutes from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and adjacent to the Uptown Entertainment District. Also in the city center, The Harbert Center offers space for meetings and social functions of up to 400 guests. The BJCC's 20-year, $300 million master plan includes the construction of a $174 million open-air stadium, a Legacy Arena makeover and an outside piazza renovation. The stadium will have up to 55,000 seats and additional meeting and exhibition space. The Legacy Arena improvements include adding new luxury suites, a club lounge, upgraded concession stands, expansion of the concourse and exterior updates. Site work is expected to begin by the end of this year. The stadium is expected to be completed in 2021 and upgrades to Legacy Arena are expected to be finished by 2022. Two notable hotels opened in 2017. The 111-room Elyton Hotel, Autograph Collection by Marriott is located downtown in one of the city's four original skyscrapers that date to 1909. The hotel has two event rooms for up to 166 people, as well as event space at Moon Shine, a top-floor lounge with panoramic views of the city. Homewood Suites by Hilton, in the historic Five Points South district near the University of Alabama Birmingham campus, has 105 guest rooms and space for up to 142 people for theater-style presentations or up to 106 for dinners. Additionally, the former DoubleTree by Hilton on the UAB campus is completing a $20 million renovation to be rebranded as Hilton Birmingham UAB. The hotel has 298 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of event space.

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