September 13, 2013
Meydenbauer Center Celebrates 20 Years As Economic Engine
for Bellevue & the Eastside
Center Creates $393M in Economic Impact Over Two Decades;
Ranks as a National Industry Leader in Revenue, Operating Performance
Bellevue, WA – October 28, 2013 – Twenty years ago, Bellevue civic leaders celebrated a
major milestone for its emerging downtown: the opening of its first convention and events
center. Named for early Bellevue settler William Meydenbauer, the Center opened in fall of
1993 near Interstate 405.
Over the past two decades, Meydenbauer Center has stayed true to its purpose of providing
economic stimulation to the Bellevue community through new jobs, tax revenues and
commercial activity. Since opening, Meydenbauer Center hosted more than 7,600 events and
contributed more than $390M in economic impact to the City of Bellevue.
“We opened Meydenbauer Center back in 1993 as a venue to cultivate culture and community
– a place where Bellevue could host large events, national conferences and public forums,” said
Robert Wallace, one of Meydenbauer Center’s founding board members. “Fast forward 20
years and downtown Bellevue is a regional economic force – and Meydenbauer has played a
significant role in its evolution.”
The Center currently includes 54,000 sq. ft. of large, functional space consisting of, a 36,000 sq.
ft. Center Hall, 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms, a 410-seat sloped theatre, a 2,500 sq. ft.
executive conference suite and 434 parking spaces.
Meydenbauer Center is proud to be a self-sustaining facility that uses no general funds or taxes
from Bellevue residents. Operated as a Public Development Authority, the Center’s operating
expenses are funded by revenues generated from direct charges to facility users, catering,
meeting services and Bellevue hotel/motel taxes.
“Strong financial performance has always been at the heart of our planning and operational
goals,” said Stacy Graven, Meydenbauer Center’s executive director since 1994. “We have to
manage downturns and recessions just like any business, but we work hard to make sure we
rebound well and regain our competitive edge. In fact, 2013 is on track to be one of our best
financial years to-date.”
Convention Sports Leisure, a leading consulting firm specializing in the convention, sport,
entertainment and visitor industries, released a study early this year that highlighted
Meydenbauer Center as a national industry leader in financial operating performance
compared with 10 similar venues locally and around the country.
The Center ranks 4th nationally in highest operating revenue and 3rd highest in revenue per
Two Decades of Convention Business Blossoms as Downtown Booms
A convention center was a daring new concept for Bellevue in 1993 and while Meydenbauer
Center’s founders set what they felt were lofty operating benchmarks for the new facility, the
Center quickly outpaced its growth projections.
“Our first operational plan projected just 137 events and 76,000 attendees annually – we
quickly exceeded these numbers and proved we could have an impact on expanding and
attracting business and opportunity for Bellevue,” said Graven. “Things changed significantly,
however, once companies like Microsoft and Expedia invested in significant downtown office
space. Our volume and demand changed after that. “
With nearly 50% of annual events now stemming from corporate clients, Meydenbauer
regularly hosts conferences and meetings for business clients that include Boeing, Microsoft,
Expedia, Costco, Paccar, and more. It also hosts a range of smaller-scale events for a wide
range of groups and organizations – from cheerleading competitions to knitting shows.
Its community fundraising events alone have raised more than $94 million for programs that
benefit education, at-risk youth, health care, literacy, animal welfare, housing and feeding
those in need. In addition, its community performing arts theatre has hosted more than 1,100
events for nearly 658,000 attendees.
Meydenbauer Takes On ‘Visit Bellevue Washington’, Centralizes Citywide Destination Marketing
Backed by a healthy, vibrant downtown, Bellevue’s tourism continues to grow. To support
these efforts, Meydenbauer Center recently launched ‘Visit Bellevue Washington’ to help tell
Bellevue’s story, increase the number of travelers to the city and boost tourist spending.
“We estimate that in 2012 alone, more than 1.3million visitors spent an estimated $620 million
in Bellevue,” said Graven. “The Visit Bellevue Washington mission is to inform these important
visitors about all there is to see and do in our great city. Our vision is to help ensure Bellevue
retains and grows this important revenue from our expanding base of convention and leisure
Revenue stemming from 2012 Bellevue tourism resulted in $5.9 million in city of Bellevue
sales and B & O tax revenue, more than 9,759 jobs and $336 million in wages.
Looking Ahead: The Next 20 Years for Meydenbauer Center
As Meydenbauer Center leadership looks to the future, evolution and change remain at the
forefront, ensuring the Center stays competitive as the Eastside market continues to grow.
The Bellevue Convention Center Authority Board of Directors, which is the Public
Development Authority that owns and oversees Meydenbauer Center, will continue evaluating
these changes as it helps staff plan for the future.
“Investing in the future is critical as we continue to meet our client’s needs,” said Meydenbauer
Center Board Chair, Rick Carlson. “The board and staff are currently contemplating necessary
capital reinvestments to the 20-year-old facility to bring its interiors, finishes and technology
up-to-date in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.”
Carlson added, “Meydenbauer Center’s location has also become more central to downtown
Bellevue’s day-to-day commerce. In fact, Meydenbauer Center’s ability to bring in large
convention business over the past two decades has been a key driver for downtown’s hotel
and retail boom. Then you add our new City Hall, Microsoft and the Bravern – as well as the
potential future Metro site development and Bellevue light rail station – these are all key signs
additional growth is on the horizon. Our job is to be ready for it.”
For more information about events and catering at Meydenbauer Center, please contact Stacy
Graven at (425) 637-1020 or email@example.com.
About Meydenbauer Center
Founded in 1993, Meydenbauer Center (www.meydenbauer.com) is a full-service convention center and theatre serving mid-sized conventions, corporate and community meetings, and the performing arts in Bellevue, Washington. Meydenbauer Convention Center serves a unique, mid-sized market for conventions, providing groups of 300 to 3,000 with turnkey facilities and services and personalized customer support. Meydenbauer Center is owned and operated by the Bellevue Convention Center Authority, a non-profit public development authority chartered by the City of Bellevue. Created in December 1989, the Authority was organized pursuant to the Revised Code of Washington 35.21.730 et seq.