Business View Magazine | May 2019

47 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE MAY 2019 THE ERNEST N. MOR I AL CONVENT ION CENTER fourth phase of expansion planned right before Hurricane Katrina; in fact, they’d already drilled the piers for the building,” explains the Center’s President & General Manager, Michael Sawaya, who came onboard in early 2018. “However, after Katrina, demand was less than forecast, so we did not build an additional exhibit hall, even though, prior to that, they had reached the practical maximum in occupancy. We did, however, build the 60,000-sq.-ft. ballroom in 2014.” Currently, Sawaya says that the Center’s main focus is establishing a new headquarters hotel. “It’s a 1,200-room hotel that we’re in negotiation with a private development group for,” he reports. “The hotel project is critical to our success here. It’s the one thing that, we believe, is a gap to what we offer versus our competitors, so it’s something that we’re very serious about pursuing. We’re in the early stages of our negotiations with the property developer, but we feel confident that we’re going to get a deal done in order to develop that, and our goal is to open by Super Bowl in 2024, pictured Michael Sawaya, President & General Manager