Convention Center the belle of the ball

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After a decade of talk and anticipation, the convention center in downtown Wilmington opened today. And boy is it a beauty. The first event hosted hundreds of brides to be, but the belle of the ball was still the building itself.

“We are stoked,” said Convention Center General Manager Susan Eaton.

“Oh it’s beautiful,” said Debbie Reay, who was visiting the new building. “We’ve been walking around for about an hour and a half now. It’s beautiful. We’re so glad it came.”

The 107,000 square-foot building is complete with two ballrooms, 14 meeting rooms and an exhibit hall.

“We worked pretty much to midnight to get the building cleaned up and ready to go and the result is all of these wonderful guests that have waited for this building to open in Wilmington and it just went like clockwork,” Eaton said.

Sunday it was filled with cake, gowns and rings, which can only mean one thing. The convention center’s first event was the Cape Fear Wedding Show.

“The economy has impacted all of the vendors but I think the show is a great opportunity and I’m hoping that it’ll work out for us,” said DigiPix Photography vendor Matt Werner.

Fashion shows, photography, and champagne and chocolate fountains gave brides-to-be a taste of every kind of wedding they could dream of.

Eaton says the convention center cost $62 million to build, paid for with room occupancy tax dollars.

“I think it was definitely worth it,” Reay said. “We spend money on a lot of things that we don’t need. I think this is a good plus for Wilmington.”

For event planners, the first show seemed to be a piece of cake.

“We’re just glad it’s all come to fruition for the city of Wilmington,” Eaton said.

The convention center is quickly getting booked up, even years down the road. While this event was for the girls, guys get geared up for next month. December 10 is the Muscle Car Auction.

Categories: New Hanover