Albany Capital Center
Ready to shine
Business View Magazine interviews Shannon Licygiewicz, General Manager of Albany Capital Center, for our focus on Top Convention and Event Venues
Since 2017, Albany Capital Center (ACC) has been operating in the heart of beautiful downtown Albany, offering 53,000 square feet of meeting, ballroom, and exhibit space. Part of the Capital Complex, which brings together the Albany Capital Center, the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, The Egg Performing Arts Center, and the MVP Arena, the center boasts state of the art technology and amenities to ensure that every event provides a successful and memorable guest experience.
“We have a gorgeous second level multipurpose room with an LED lit ceiling that can be customized with color and branding. It really sets us apart,” shares General Manager Shannon Licygiewicz. “That upstairs space can be used for anything from conventions, trade shows, basketball or volleyball courts, or it can be a social event for 1,200 people plus. We can do concerts up there, so it really is a multi-purpose space. The first level of the building has six breakout rooms altogether, and includes an executive boardroom space. There are beautiful windows throughout the entire facility, over 10,000 square feet of pre-function space, and in addition to our space, you get a lot of different amenities that the building offers.”
Mentioning that the facility is equipped with digital signage, and has one gigabit of internet throughout, Licygiewicz adds, “That is a very attractive bit of info for our e-sport gamer conventions.”
Owned by the State of New York, the ACC is under the supervision of the Albany Capital Center Authority (ACCA), who have hired ASM Global to oversee the management of the facility. Noting that the Authority have invested heavily in the success of the center, Licygiewicz describes the recent installation of an air purification system, which is attached to all air ducts and filters throughout the building. She notes, “That basically means that the contaminated particles in the air are now filtered through an extra fine filtration system. In the age of COVID, and coming out of COVID, that is an amazing investment that the Authority has done and I believe we are the only event center in the area that has done so.”
Another innovative expenditure was the purchase of a Mamava Pod, a portable room that can be moved throughout the building for various events. Licygiewicz explains, “One of the top requests that we were asked for time and time again was an area for women to breastfeed and have some privacy. It provides that great private space. It has been very heavily used, and excitedly welcomed by many of our groups that have come through our doors.”
Recognizing the importance of their partnership with Mazzone Hospitality – the catering company for Albany Capital Center – Licygiewicz relays, “We work hand in hand with them on almost every single event that comes through our doors. They allow us to offer an elevated convention center food experience.” Suggesting that this partnership has permitted the ACC to move beyond the stigma that convention centers only serve bland, standard fare, she continues, “Working with a professional catering team that has a creative arm and a wealth of chefs and knowledge has really allowed us to set ourselves apart as far as food and beverage goes. Customizing a menu is their specialty, and working with each and every individual client to deliver an amazing product. From the time that it gets displayed on the table, or served at your table, you’re getting an elevated food and beverage experience. So, they’ve been wonderful.”
American Concert and Entertainment Services (ACES) is another valuable partnership for the center. “They are our audiovisual team here at the Albany Capital Center, and they are fantastic,” offers Licygiewicz. As a local company with a warehouse in Troy, New York, ACES is able to customize the client experience through their large supply of equipment and abilities. “They were instrumental during the last couple of years in helping us set up production rooms, where people could come in and literally just step into a space, sit down and run a meeting,” says Licygiewicz. “They have expanded to assist our clients in a myriad of different avenues in COVID, outside of COVID, and after COVID. It’s been wonderful to see them flex and grow with the needs that have come from our events.”
With the help of the ACCA, some outside of the box thinking, and a lot of team work, the ACC was able to keep its doors open throughout COVID, setting up production rooms for virtual meetings and offering a variety of production services. Albany Capital Center was also able to host sporting events, with a capped number of attendees.
“I think it was really about being flexible and figuring out how we could make things work based on the rules and regulations,” conveys Licygiewicz. “Now that the rules and regulations have subsided, we sort of work backwards. Before we used to put an RFP together and say, okay, this is what you need, and we’d ask our specific questions. Now the question is, what do you want to accomplish at your meeting and conference? It used to start with food and beverage, it now starts with the technology piece, because it’s another component.”
Over the past several months, virtual offerings have seen a steep decline in popularity, meaning another pivot for the facility. “I think our main objective right now is to communicate that we have the ability, the technology, and the strength to help anyone create any sort of event that they’re looking for,” Licygiewicz says. “Whether it be hybrid, standalone, or virtual, our team has gone through this now for two years. We did not close. So, we actually have the most experience in the area and really the State of New York. We have the ability and the skills to assist any client that comes through our doors with any sort of goals and programs they want.”
As for future growth, Licygiewicz would love to see a renovation that would add more square footage to the ACC, although this is not in the plans for the immediate future. She maintains, “We have to really get back to a point where we are closer to operating pre-pandemic, to go back and start to consider what would be the best investment for expansion. There are definitely some options out there, but we have to make sure, as a facility, that we’re in the right position, and it’s the right time for us to start looking at those items again.”
With that being said, things are starting to move in the right direction for a return to pre -COVID numbers, with sporting and social events being the quickest to rebound for Albany Capital Center. “Those were two areas that virtual didn’t really work for. You can’t virtually attend a wedding or a gala, it’s just not the same. You can’t virtually play a sporting event,” says Licygiewicz. Adding that on the meeting and convention side, the comeback has been slower, she admits, “We’re very appreciative of all the meeting, convention, and trade show business that we have, but the numbers have been a little bit lower than anticipated or estimated, perhaps. I would say very excitedly, for 2023 and 2024, things are definitely looking like they’re coming back around the corner for all categories.”
A return to events like the annual Capital Region Chamber Dinner, with 1,100 attendees, and the Capital District Reptile Expo with over 4000 people in attendance, are evidence that a return to more positive times is on the way.
Working with the Albany Capital Center since before it opened, first as Director of Sales, and now as GM, Licygiewicz expresses, “I absolutely loved selling the facility and getting people excited, and then seeing it come full circle when we opened. It’s been a wonderful wild ride. Now getting the opportunity to sort of lead the ship in the general manager position is a wonderful accomplishment for my career and for me, personally, it’s a dream.”
Looking to the future of the ACC she says, “I think the future for this facility is bright. I personally can’t wait to see what events we can attract to the area.” Sharing that a strong partnership with destination management group Discover Albany is a key component to the success of Albany Capital Center, Licygiewicz believes none of it would be possible without all of the fantastic employees who work hard to make every event a success. She summarizes, “I truly look forward to continuing partnerships with all of our wonderful partners, pushing things forward, and really helping the team and our convention center to shine and be a premier event location.”
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AT A GLANCE
Albany Capital Center
What: A premier event and meeting destination
Where: Albany, New York