Representatives from campus and community gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Illinois Conference Center expansion on Monday, Nov. 25.
The Conference Center expansion will add 32,500 square feet to the facility, nearly doubling its size. The $13 million project will include a 12,500 square foot exhibit hall and add roughly 140 parking spaces. The expansion will provide the campus and community with a dynamic event space that can hold more than 600 attendees at one time.
The building is scheduled to be completed in September of 2020.
“The expansion of the Illinois Conference Center is the result of the university’s commitment to serve our students, staff, faculty, and the Champagin-Urbana community,” said Danita M. B. Young, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “The expanded Conference Center will serve as a gathering, learning, and networking space for a larger number of patrons than we have ever been able to engage with previously. The new modern facility will provide students with the opportunity to display and discuss what they are learning in classrooms and labs, gain access to expert speakers, and discover chances to expand their knowledge, thanks to the access the larger conference space will provide.”
Located adjacent to the I-Hotel, the Conference Center has been a fixture in Champaign-Urbana since 2008. A public-private partnership, the Conference Center is owned and operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while the hotel is owned and managed privately.
“The first exposure many people have with the Research Park is the iHotel and Conference Center, which makes it an important part of our outreach,” Research Park executive director Laura Frerichs said. “In addition to hosting companies and organizations for collaboration, conferences, and events, it is a place that bridges the university and the community.”
Currently the Illinois Conference Center hosts over 3000 events per year, and there are already 2000 on the books for 2020.
The project addresses the concern that the community has been unable to cater to large conferences of 700+, including meetings of interest to Illinois faculty as well as meetings for Illinois-based associations and business.
“To this point we’ve been selling a concept,” said Jayne DeLuce, President and CEO of Visit Champaign County. “After today it’s a reality. We are ready to bring in more and more business.”
The project is being constructed by Fox/Atkins Development, the development partner of the University of Illinois Research Park.
This story was featured in the News Gazette. Read their coverage here.