Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Ceremonially Signs Bill for the Kentucky International Convention Center

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 01, 2014  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Measure advances the future of facility

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill into law today at the Kentucky International Convention Center that advances the future of the facility.

Signed among local and state leaders and tourism officials, House Bill 401 allows the existing transient room tax to pay off local bonds issued for the project. The new flexibility in the room tax is projected to provide $2 million annually toward the renovation and expansion of the convention center, or $41 million total over the life of the bonds.

“This legislation is a key component to the success of this project, and I commend the Jefferson County legislative delegation for diligently working to ensure its passage,” said Gov. Beshear. “Mayor Fischer and his team, the local hospitality industry led by the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and our Kentucky State Fair Board worked together to keep this expansion and renovation project moving forward. This investment will bring $53 million into our economy annually and create more jobs in our tourism and hospitality industry sector.”

The bill is one of several sources of funding to renovate and expand the downtown convention center. The $56 million in General Fund bonds proposed in Gov. Beshear’s biennial budget for the project was passed by both houses in April, and the project also involves financial backing from the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“As downtown Louisville continues to grow and thrive, it’s important that we keep the Kentucky International Convention Center up-to-date and viable as an option for events of all sizes,” said Sen. Dan Seum, of Louisville. “Investing in the Center is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

“Sponsoring House Bill 401 this year was very important to our community in Louisville,” said Rep. Darryl Owens, of Louisville. “The support and co-sponsorship from the entire Jefferson County delegation is telling of the bill’s business-friendly value for both Louisville and the entire Commonwealth. I am very honored to join Gov. Beshear, Mayor Fischer, and others here in Louisville to shed light on the importance of the Kentucky International Convention Center’s continued growth and economic success.”

“This is a win for economic development and tourism in this community,” said Kentucky State Fair Board President & CEO Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe. “This could not have been done without the great partnership between our city and the state’s leaders and officials.”

“Tourism is a huge and increasingly vital component of Louisville’s economy, as well as the Commonwealth, so I applaud Governor Beshear’s leadership and critical support with the funding in the state budget and this key piece of legislation,” said Louisville mayor Greg Fischer.

Karen Williams, president & CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “The Kentucky International Convention Center has long been a driver for lucrative convention business. The improvements to our product will position Louisville well in a very competitive hospitality industry and encourage further growth.”

According to Fair Board and city officials, the renovation and expansion of the downtown convention center will help retain events that are outgrowing the current building – create space to attract new events and accommodate events that have been unable to fit into the current facility due to a lack of adequate exhibit and meeting space.

The expansion is projected to cost between $176 million and $180 million. The investment will increase contiguous exhibit space by more than a third, from 146,000 square feet to approximately 230,000 square feet. The expansion will also renovate the existing facility – all within the center’s existing footprint.

The Kentucky International Convention Center is located in the heart of downtown Louisville and draws nearly 1 million guests per year.