Monday, Jan. 6, 2003 | 11:10 a.m.
Thousands of conventioneers will begin using the city's newest trade show venue today as Mandalay Bay opens its 1.8 million-square-foot, $235 million center for the 10th annual Aqua Show.
The opening of the building represents an opportunity to fill owner Mandalay Resort Group's nearly 12,000 south Strip rooms with midweek guests.
The three-level convention center has two tiers of trade show exhibition space and is the ninth largest convention center in the country. It has the nation's largest pillarless ballroom, big enough to serve a sit-down dinner for 6,000 guests.
Mandalay Bay spokesman Gordon Abshire said the building was ready well ahead of the move-in date of the Aqua show, an event geared to the pool and spa industry. And, while Aqua is under way, the convention center's first corporate meeting is scheduled for Symbol Technologies.
"This is the first example of how this building was designed to multitask," Abshire said. "Hypothetically, we could break this out into about 75 different rooms. Having two clients at the same time is no issue at all."
By Las Vegas standards, the Aqua show will be small, with about 6,000 people scheduled to attend. But some of the shows Mandalay Bay will play host to later this month and in February are considerably larger.
The ground floor of the building has a food court, the common areas outside the trade-show floors have built-in registration desks and storage areas and the pre-function space offers views of the the company's row of hotels as well as Mandalay Beach and its wave pool.
Columns on the trade show floors have electricity, water, telephone and data ports and several columns have cables that can accommodate television feeds. The building has first- and second-floor bay doors so that shows can move in and out without crossing paths.
Besides the conventions, meeting planners are expected to rent Mandalay restaurants and nightclubs for corporate functions. For example, Aqua organizers have an event planned at the House of Blues. Peter Brown, president and owner of the Aqua retail conferences, said his organization has committed to 1,100 rooms at Luxor and Excalibur at the peak of the show.