Groundbreaking Ceremony Kicks off Hickory Metro Convention Center Expansion HICKORY, NC – Ground was broken by community leaders on Monday, May 1, during a Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. Hickory Construction Company is the contractor for the $14 million renovation and expansion, which will add more than 46,000 square feet to the convention center. Once the project is complete, there will be a total of more than 132,000 usable square feet on one level. The project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2024, and over the next 20 years will be paid for by Hickory and Conover room occupancy tax revenues and event revenue generated from the convention center.
Mandy Pitts Hildebrand, CEO of the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau, welcomed all in attendance and said it’s a moment that many people have been looking forward to, especially the staff. “There is so much positive momentum that has brought us to this day and it’s because of collaboration and collective wisdom of looking to what the next 5 to 25 years looks like in the meeting and event industry, as well as sports tourism, that we believe will make this renovation and expansion a success.”
Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority (HCTDA), which is the government entity that oversees the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau, was created in the 1980s. The Hickory Metro Convention Center experienced many successful growth periods over the decades. Today’s groundbreaking marks the next evolution of its progress.
“Turning dirt for the second expansion at the convention center brings a lot of excitement to the region,” said HCTDA Chair Bruce Eckard. “The vision from many of us in the 1980s continues to grow as we have seen the success of the convention center when it opened in 1997, expanded in 2005, and the variety of meetings and events has increased over the years, which is good for business and the community as whole. The growth led to the need for more hotel accommodations, restaurants, and more. The expansion is another big opportunity that will bring more conferences and events – from larger meetings to public shows to more sports tournaments, which again there will be a need for more hotels because when this next phase is complete, it will bring more visitors to our community, which makes it a win for all.”
Hickory Mayor Hank Guess said that the expansion and renovation of the Hickory Metro Convention Center is a major economic development driver in the region. “We are pleased to partner with the Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority to increase the square footage to accommodate sports tournaments and add additional meeting and event space. Our city is growing, and this expansion will help to ensure that we are well prepared for the future needs of our community.”
Hickory Construction Company President Mark Baucom said he is beyond excited to be working on this high-profile project.
“This project is near and dear to my heart personally and professionally,” said Baucom. “One of my daughters plays travel volleyball and we travel all over to tournaments. I get the opportunity to see a lot of facilities. A portion of the new space we will be constructing will have indoor volleyball courts, and I always thought we needed this type of facility in Hickory. This will dip our toe into the water locally, which will hopefully lead to more growth in this wonderful sport. Professionally, tourism dollars in our community is a great thing. This project, whether we are utilizing the court spaces, the expo space, or promoting the prominence of furniture manufacturing, is going to be a real game changer for western North Carolina.”
Baucom added that his team that is working on this project is the best of the best. “Working with the architectural and engineering team, along with the convention center staff, is going to be a dynamic working group.”
“The architect team has many, many years of experience, with Scott Mitchell being the original Design Architect on this project,” said Patrick McMurry, a Principal Architect at Holland & Hamrick Architects. “Leading the team is Holland & Hamrick, and partners include Brittain Engineering, Clayton Engineering, and Taylor & Viola Structural Engineers. We too look forward to working with Hickory Construction, Hickory staff on the team, and the board and staff of the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau.”
More about the convention center renovation and addition:
An additional 46,194 square feet will be added and that includes:
• A 35,000-square-foot exhibit hall with a 30-foot clear ceiling height and wood flooring, which is space for an expo, public show, or meeting, as well as space for eight volleyball courts and four basketball courts, and ideal space for cheerleading, gymnastics, and wrestling events.
• An area that will highlight our furniture manufacturing history is a 2,500-square-foot space with self-contained restrooms, catering space, an outdoor terrace, and video display capability.
• The remaining space is for hallways and lobbies, and back-of-the-house storage areas.
Alterations of approximately 30,000 square feet of the original building include:
• Upgraded finishes, lighting, and sound control in the existing Catawba Rooms (the 2005 addition) and new movable partitions for more efficient operation.
• Renovated and expanded restrooms to provide new finishes and “touchless” operation.
• Extended exterior canopy at the existing North Entry, which is the main entrance seen from I-40.
• New covered walkway connection from the existing parking deck to the main entrance.
• Additional small meeting room.
• Enhanced video signage and wayfinding.
Hildebrand said that the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau, along with the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, will remain open during the renovation. Events, meetings, public shows, and sporting events will still occur on the side of the convention center that has minor renovations. Once the Catawba renovations are complete, that space could open before the entire project is complete.
“We are hopeful that locals and visitors will ‘Bear With Us’ during this project, as turning dirt is progress,” added Hildebrand. “We are thankful that we will remain open during this positive interruption, and we are working closely with our customers and neighbors during this time.”
To learn more about events going on at the convention center, where to park, and other details, visit www.visithickorymetro.com. Keep up with the construction projects at www.visithickorymetro.com/construction.
For More Information Contact:
Mandy Pitts Hildebrand, CEO
Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau
1960 13th Ave. Dr. SE, Hickory, NC 28602