Enhanced Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center Reopens As $1.1 Billion Expansion Continues
South Florida’s newly expanded Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center (GFLCC) is gearing up to grow even bigger, doubling the size of its original footprint by late 2025.
Following a 20-month expansion and enhancement project that increased the 600,000-square-foot facility to 800,000 sq. ft., including a 350,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall, the venue reopened its doors to event groups in October 2021. Broward County officials held a bond signing ceremony Dec. 17 to finalize funding needed to move forward with the remainder of the project, which will include a new eastside building featuring a host of state-of-the-art upgrades and amenities for meeting and convention groups.
The price tag of the entire project, which will grow the facility to 1.2 million sq. ft. and includes a new interconnected 800-room upscale headquarters hotel, rounds out at $1.1 billion. The next phase of the expansion is now moving ahead, while financing for the headquarters hotel is still in process.
According to GFLCC officials, while the completed portion of the expansion had been planned long before the pandemic, the remainder of the project had been put on hold due to the pandemic and the resulting pause in financial negotiations.
Expansion project highlights include:
- 800,000 total sq. ft.
- 350,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space
- 2 ballrooms
- 1.2 million total sq. ft.
- $600 million cost for convention center
- Increase of 600,000 sq. ft. from original convention center footprint
- Four ballrooms, including 65,000-sq.-ft. waterfront ballroom
- 50 breakout rooms
- Kitchen facilities
- 215,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
- 220,000 sq. ft. of flexible space
- Five-acre waterfront plaza with three restaurants, an amphitheater and outdoor event space
- An 800-room headquarters hotel with an additional 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification
The first event to enjoy the facility’s new exhibit space was the indoor portion of the 62nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world’s largest in-water boat show held Oct. 27-31, 2021.
Exhibitors including Ray Jahn, president of Fish Tale Boats, expressed excitement about the expanded expo hall.
“The facility offered enhanced opportunities for us to display our full line of models, and customers were very happy to have this vital display hub back at the show,” Jahn said. “We’re excited for the completion of the expansion in 2025 and think the benefits for exhibitors and consumers will be world-class.”
According to Visit Lauderdale officials, the facility has many more events and trade shows on its schedule that are looking forward to taking advantage of the larger, upgraded space.
“The convention center expansion with a new 65,000-sq.-ft. waterfront ballroom, along with our expanded exhibit hall and other new features, makes Greater Fort Lauderdale highly competitive in the national convention landscape,” said Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of Visit Lauderdale. “The expansion is key to our continuing evolution as an upscale, cosmopolitan and diverse tourism and meetings destination.”
The convention center expansion is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and boost the Greater Fort Lauderdale economy by more than $200 million annually.