Baltimore Convention Center
Discover the Vibrant Convention Center Experience in the heart of bustling Downtown Baltimore
Bringing in top-tier events to a city that is used to catering to the discerning tourist
Sitting in the heart of downtown Baltimore, the Baltimore Convention Center reigns as the foremost venue in the mid-Atlantic region. It hosts an eclectic range of events, from conventions, trade shows, and meetings to banquets and sports-related gatherings. Boasting an expansive 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, complemented by 85,000 square feet of meeting facilities and a versatile 36,672-square-foot ballroom the center strikes a perfect balance between capacity and flexibility. More than just a venue, the Baltimore Convention Center plays a dynamic role in driving economic growth and tourism, making a substantial contribution to the region’s vitality by hosting over 125 events annually and drawing in 500,000 guests to the community. It is a prestigious and versatile venue that has been recognized with several awards, including the 2023 Facilities & Destinations Prime Site Award, the IAVM Venue of Excellence Award, the Exhibitor Magazine’s Center of Excellence Award, and the Northstar Stella Awards – Gold Medal.
Ideally Located for Economic Impact and Community Vitality
Executive Director, Mac Campbell enthusiastically conveys the center’s attributes. He emphasizes, “The Baltimore Convention Center is the catalysts for meetings and convention business in the Baltimore Region, and all of that ancillary economic impact that happens because of it. We’re nestled right in the middle of downtown, steps away from the Inner Harbor and that iconic view of the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltimore National Aquarium. We are a short drive or light rail ride from BWI Airport, which is a fantastic regional hub for Southwest and international travel. We are proud that we are a city run and owned facility that has been doing this since 1979. And we’re not done yet.”
Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, adds his perspective, stating, “We are able to attract out of town conventions and meetings, that if it had not been for the convention center would not be in our community. So those events come to our community, and folks stay in a hotel. They spend money at our restaurants, they buy tickets to games, concerts, and museums. It’s no doubt that it’s an economic engine in our community, not to mention, it hires a number of folks who live here in Baltimore City and the surrounding county. It’s a big stimulus and an economic engine, and we are very fortunate to say we have a leading facility like the Baltimore Convention Center here in our city.”
Moving Forward with Enthusiasm
During the obstacles faced by the hospitality industry in recent years, the Baltimore Convention Center demonstrated its commitment to the community. It served as a significant resource by opening as a 250-bed field hospital for the state of Maryland. Campbell says, ““We were the longest running active field hospital. We saw patients for almost two years. In addition, we were the community hub for vaccinations and testing.” The facility also stored PPE for the state, as well as acting as a food distribution hub in collaboration with the City of Baltimore, and Amazon Flex, working to disperse food to those experiencing food insecurity.
Looking ahead, Hutchinson says the goal is to reopen the travel and tourism economy in the city. ”We want to make sure we’re as competitive as possible moving forward in a post COVID type of era.”
Campbell agrees and “We have the most collaborative staff, and the most caring CVB. We are building relationships to make sure that we hear what clients need and go above and beyond to provide those things. I think we are the most adaptable in our competitive set. Those types of things, along with our sustainability policies and procedures, our relentless attention to making sure that everyone feels safe downtown while they’re here, all of those things are differentiators that set us apart.” Regarding recent developments, Campbell says that the center received a substantial grant of $25.7 million from Governor Wes Moore’s supplemental budget during the past session. These funds are earmarked to enhance the customer experience, strengthen essential systems, and look ahead to envision the next iteration and generation of the Baltimore Convention Center.”
Culinary Delights and a Commitment to Client Satisfaction
Gregory Pittman, the Executive Chef with SodexLive! The catering partner of the Baltimore Convention Center, highlights some of the unique ways in which the center distinguishes itself in terms of client options. He portrays, “We definitely pride ourselves on being fully diverse and immersing ourselves with our clients.” For instance, when hosting the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament, the facility went to great lengths to ensure an authentic client experience. Pittman explains, ““We put together some Congee, we did some Sarsa, we even went and did some Musubi for our clients. We take pride in making sure that our guests get the full experience. If that means looking more into the demographics of the show, collaborating with the clients to make sure the flavor profiles are there, whatever steps we need to do we take them to make sure that we’re definitely fully versed with that group.”
Another noteworthy example is when the center hosted The People’s Ball with Governor Wes Moore. Pittman describes a conversation he had with First Lady Dawn Moore during the event’s preparation. He recalls that one of the terms she used was ‘intention’, asking him how intentional he planned to be when building the menu. He shares that in 2023 the word for him was to be intentional, leading the culture through food. Chef Pittman’s decision to include petite Crabcakes on the menu for the event was a perfect representation of Maryland, offering a piece of the state’s culinary identity.
Hutchinson recounts an impressive success story, when the city of Baltimore had the opportunity to welcome the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) men’s and women’s basketball tournament, the largest historically black athletic conference in the country. The tournament had been held in Charlotte for 15 consecutive years, but through a collaborative effort involving the convention center, the mayor, and other city partners, Baltimore successfully attracted the competition. Although the first year was canceled due to the pandemic, over the last two years, Hutchinson reports that the city ran a highly successful event. The Baltimore Convention Center played a significant role, hosting a fan festival, educational events, job fairs, and a fraternity-sorority steps show. “Just this past year, this particular event left $29.6 million in economic impact to Baltimore City,” he says. “They will be in Baltimore at least until 2026. So, this is a big story, a big win for our community.”
Campbell mentions the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) as another notable client and one of the largest recurring events held at the Baltimore Convention Center. To ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment, the convention center has taken extra steps to understand the Islamic culture better. “It’s another group that we’ve worked with to cultivate a relationship and to make sure that they feel like the convention center is a real home for their community,” he elaborates. “We’ve taken extra steps to make sure that we got to know more about the Islamic culture by hosting them for a question and answer session, in what we’re calling the ‘Let’s Chat’ series as part of our equity platform. We want to make sure that we get to hear and ask them things about their culture, so that we can deliver on the things that they find most important, not necessarily what we think they want.”
Community Collaboration and Support
Chef Pittman relays the center’s commitment to incubating small businesses like Codetta’s Bake Shop, a female-owned, black minority woman-owned, and Muslim-owned enterprise. Over the past two and a half years, Codetta’s has grown significantly with support from the convention center, evolving from a small operation to supplying up to 4,200 plate-ups. He says, “I took this company on because I really appreciated the product. Not only the working relationship, but also to see that the small business can grow with incubation.” He also discusses the culture of Baltimore and the convention center’s active involvement in the community. Pittman mandates that his team volunteers at least twice a year, whether it’s at a soup kitchen, donating food products, or participating in food drives.
The Baltimore Convention Center is dedicated to delivering a unique and memorable experience to its guests. From their diverse food offerings to their immersive approach in showcasing Baltimore, the venue is sure to leave a lasting impression. Furthermore, the commitment to community engagement, support for local businesses, and active involvement in charitable efforts underlines a dedication to both visitors and the broader community, exemplifying the true Baltimore spirit of collaboration and celebration.
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AT A GLANCE
Baltimore Convention Center
What: A premier location in the mid-Atlantic region, for trade shows, conferences, and events.
Where: Baltimore City, Maryland
Projection – projection.com
Projection is a full-service, nationwide event production company serving the meetings and convention industry for over 50 years. Projection offers in-person, hybrid, and fully virtual event production design. Our services include in-house convention audio visual, rigging, networking, presentation management, staging, sound and lighting services, capture, broadcast, overflow solutions and more.