Making St. Louis more appealing for conventions, events

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Architects and engineers are busy drawing up new plans for America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. To make way for those improvements, tearing down the Edward Jones Dome is one of the options being considered.

People at this week’s Home & Garden Show (which runs through Sunday) have opinions as to whether such changes are needed. Some of the vendors visit other cities and convention centers across the nation. Dave Kemp, who sells hot tubs, said America’s Center is in his top three, but there is room for improvements.

“It needs some upgrades, some lights, new doors, better parking,” he said.

Dave Jones, a vendor from New York, added, “The loading part, I think, it’s the hardest part getting in and out of here.”

To make St. Louis more attractive to bigger and better conventions, as well as boat and car shows, the people in charge insist changes need to be made. They said the convention center needs a ballroom twice as large just to compete with Nashville. Better loading docks are also a necessity. And there may have to be changes to the former home of the Rams.

“It was designed as a football stadium, it wasn’t designed as a convention center,” said Kitty Ratcliffe, president of St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. “So if it’s going to truly be a convention center, we know there are going to be some changes; we don’t know what they’re going to be right now.”

Nor do they know the costs. “New and improved” is a popular phrase companies use to sell products. It apparently also works for convention centers.

“When you make things new and shiny, people get excited about and they want to come,” said Tammy Ridgley, manager of the Home & Garden Show.

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