Photography credit: Christopher Payne/Esto

It’s been five months since the doors re-opened at the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) following a two-year, $207 million renovation and expansion project. “We opened on time and on budget,” notes Stacey Church, the general manager for the KICC. “Since then, we’ve hosted more than 60events and 70,000 guests.”

Gearing up

Church came on board in January 2018 as the redesign was in the final stages. Initially, she focused on building up her team and developing the policies that would guide her team’s management of the facility, but she wasn’t working in her new offices for most of that time. “Time before our Grand Opening was limited,” she says. “I spent that time on other aspects; learning about the buildings amenities, and about our incoming clients and event planners.”

Even with the built-in directional guides, finding the quickest route from location to location can be daunting. The newly redesigned facility includes:

  • 943,450 square feet of total space
  • 200,125 sq. ft. contiguous Class A exhibit space
  • 40,000 sq. ft. column-free ballroom, with color-changing LED walls
  • 52 meeting rooms and a 175-seattiered conference theater
  • 86,000+ sq ft in pre-function space
  • 15,000 meals-per-day kitchen capacity

On track

While the pace was fast in the beginning, it turned out to be just a warm-up for the activity after the facility reopened on August 6. Church says it’s common that event planners are hesitant to book just after openings in case there are delays, but that hasn’t been the case at KICC. “From the day we opened until the end of November, there were very few days without some type of event activity,” says Church. “In fact, in November, every day had activity.”

Photography credit: Christopher Payne/Esto

She says if there’s one trend in the events and hosts of this year, it’s diversity. KICC has hosted meetings for international associations, national organizations and local businesses. It’s also hosted meetings for less than 100 people, with attendees that include dancers, doctors, comic book fans, and dog owners.

For Church, that’s just the way it should be. Flexibility is the overarching selling point of the new KICC. It’s designed to easily accommodate the needs of any host, whether it’s for a week-long convention or a one-day event, a business event or a special occasion. And, with 52 meeting rooms, more than 200,125 feet of exhibit space, and a 40,000 square foot ballroom, space isn’t a problem for events of any size.

Planners also have myriad options for making those events special with the services and amenities the facility has to offer. The LED wall lights in the revamped ballroom can display a company logo or provide the backdrop for a themed occasion. A top-notch culinary team, led by Chef Thomas Hiestand, can create and prepare custom menus for sit-down meals, cocktail parties and afternoon snacks.

Church is proud of the facility and what it has to offer, and how her team hit the ground running from the start. The months following the opening were a success, and as the year comes to a close, she says the plan is to regroup before the holidays.”We’re using December to catch up, and to catch a breath,” she says.And, of course, to fine-tune the planning for 2019.”

On the horizon

There’s already plenty of business on the books for the upcoming year and Church plans to build on everything they learned from 2018. She’s assembled her team and they’ve got a successful five months under their belts. The wide range of hosting organizations, event sizes and attendees they’ve already experienced in this short time has them prepared for what looks like a busy year ahead.

Church says they’re expecting more than 170,000 visitors from the events already scheduled. With bookings coming in throughout the year, that number will be even bigger as 2019 ends. More visitors means increased business at hotels,restaurants and other destinations in the downtown area. With all that Louisville has to offer, that’s good news for visitors, the Kentucky International Convention Center and the city of Louisville.