San Francisco meeting center generates over $9 billion in tourism

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“The Moscone Center generates more than 20 percent of San Francisco’s $9.38 billion visitor tourism economy, accounting for more than $1.98 billion in visitor spending every year.

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“The Moscone Center generates more than 20 percent of San Francisco’s $9.38 billion visitor tourism economy, accounting for more than $1.98 billion in visitor spending every year. As the city and the convention landscape continue to grow, Moscone Center must expand to meet future needs,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, commenting on the expansion of the Moscone Center. “Without this expansion, $2 billion in economic activity will be lost between now and 2020.”

The Moscone Center Expansion and Improvement Project, which will keep San Francisco’s No. 1 industry competitive, create thousands of new jobs and enhance the neighborhood with a 21st century urban design that adds more greening, open space and pedestrian-friendly elements, is on schedule and on budget, officials announced today.

The $500 million project has gone through more than a year of community outreach and review, with design revisions informed by those conversations.

“After months of community interaction and input, we have developed a plan that addresses neighborhood concerns while creating more than 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space, enhancing pedestrian circulation and improving the gardens and their connection to the neighborhood,” said San Francisco City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

“We’re designing a memorable work of architecture that will be luminous and welcoming,” said Craig Hartman, FAIA, Design Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), architects for the project along with Cavagnero Associates. “We’re creating a new, pedestrian-friendly, highly urban presence on Howard Street composed of transparent and translucent materials which will bring natural light to interior public spaces and reveal life within while activating the surrounding public realm. The building’s lightness and luminosity will continue at the skyline with a civic cornice that celebrates San Francisco’s natural light and the environmental roof’s role in harvesting solar energy and rainwater.”

The Moscone Center Expansion and Improvement Project will create 3,407 new construction jobs, 3,480 new, permanent local jobs; generate $734 million in new economic impact, and $20 million in additional hotel tax revenue. Two-thirds of the cost of expanding the Moscone Center will be borne by hotels through a special assessment.

The above-grade expansion and improvements will be within the current building footprint, allowing for an expansion to and improvement of the surrounding open spaces and the introduction of new retail opportunities.

Pedestrian-friendly space will replace 25,000 square feet of surface parking and vehicular circulation, exit ways, and ramps. Plans call for an enclosed bridge between Moscone North and South for direct access.

The project will add more than 8,000 square feet of new public open space, including a new tot lot for younger children, and improve the pedestrian pathways and children’s gardens.

There will be multiple outdoor terraces which provide dramatic city views and can be used for receptions and events.

Third Street will have a widened sidewalk, new retail, outdoor dining and new access to the gardens by reducing or eliminating ramps, exits and berms. Reworking existing loading docks will provide greater efficiency.

San Francisco Travel will have a Visitor Information Center integrated into the building.

When completed, the Moscone Center will use less space per visitor than any major convention center in North America, save more than five million gallons of water annually, generate clean energy with the largest rooftop solar installation in San Francisco and will seek LEED Platinum certification.

Construction is expected to begin in December 2014 and be completed by the fall of 2018.

Construction will be completed in phases and the convention center will remain open during the entire building period, reducing short term economic impact on neighborhood businesses and services.

The project team includes:

• Owner: City and County of San Francisco, Convention Facilities Department

• Project Management: San Francisco Public Works and Moscone Expansion District

• Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Mark Cavagnero Associates

• Contractor: Webcor Builders

More information on the project plus floor plans and renderings are available at

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination. With some 1,500 partner businesses, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. Tourism, San Francisco’s largest industry, generates in excess of $9.38 billion annually for the local economy and supports more than 76,800 jobs.

The San Francisco Travel business offices are located at One Front St., Suite 2900, San Francisco, CA 94111.

San Francisco Travel also operates the Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. at the corner of Powell and Market streets. For more information, call 415-974-6900 or visit

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 34 international cities on 29 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 78 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.