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Sacramento City Council Approves Convention Center Expansion

DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Convention Center is always hungry to host more conference, companies and events.

"Our city is very different than it was just three years ago, and I think if you look 10 years down the road, Sacramento will be a very different city than it is today," said Mike Testa with Visit Sacramento.

Now it's the convention center's turn to get a facelift worth up to $120 million. The scaled-back plan approved by Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night still needs to clear a few more legal hurdles, but it includes new lobbies for both the east and west wings, a kitchen and a community plaza with an outdoor amphitheater.

The city says it's getting the money for the project by borrowing from its hotel tax revenues.

"Convention center expansions are great investments, but we also applaud the mayor for looking at tourism from a 40,000-foot angle. What else can we add in this market on top of convention? So we certainly applaud that way of thinking," Testa said.

And the convention center is just the beginning.

"We are doing this in a way that we can save about $50 million that we can put in, what I'm calling, a 'destination Sacramento' fund," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

That fund, according to the mayor, will help carve the city's future and invest in other areas such as Old Sacramento, the Riverfront and other projects, including building more hotel rooms.

"We hope to partner the new convention center with a new hotel on the east end. And, if we do that and have money left over for the Riverfront, great things for Sacramento," Steinberg said.

And for Steinberg, the goal is to bring more visitors and make the city a "top destination."

"You know, people are hungry for more in this city, and if we can demonstrate that we can do more than one big thing at a time, and I know we can, people are going to be even happier," Steinberg said.

If all things go as planned, construction will get started some time next year, with a completion date of about two years after that.