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SAN DIEGO-Construction is nearly complete on the $216 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center—a project many believe is more important to Downtown’s future than baseball.

The 864,000-sf expansion will reinforce San Diego’s center as “one of the premier exhibit and meeting venues in the world, as well as help solidify our great city as the ultimate tourist destination,” says Hal Sadler, chairman of Tucker Sadler Noble Castro Architects, which designed the project in collaboration with Los Angeles-based HNTB Architects.

The city is owner and developer of the project that will about double the amount of meeting and exhibit space at the venue. Turner Construction is the construction manager, with Ron Rudolph serving as project director.

The 15-acre site adjacent to the existing convention center at West Harbor Drive is slated for completion in early September, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held in the middle of that month. “It’s sure to become an icon for the region,” Sadler says.

In planning and construction since 1994, the expansion has numerous hurdles, including lawsuits from foes complaining that the project would obstruct views of San Diego Harbor.

Up to eight events can be held simultaneously at the expanded center, says Michael Fountain, senior project architect for HNTB Architects. All told, the new, structural steel frame facility will provide the convention center with an additional 250,000 sf of exhibit halls; 60,000 sf of meeting rooms; 170,000 sf of lobby space; 280,000 sf of service and support areas and a 40,000-sf ballroom.

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