America's Center | St. Louis Public Radio

America's Center

The event is one of several religious conventions this year at the Dome at America's Center including The United Pentecostal Church International's North American Youth Congress earlier this month.
International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses

More than 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses will gather in downtown St. Louis next weekend as part of a convention at The Dome at America’s Center.

The three-day event called Love Never Fails begins on Friday.

The School Nutrition Association showcased vendors with various food products that are being introduced to school districts across the country on July 15, 2019.
Chad Davis and Nicolas Telep | St. Louis Public Radio

About 6,000 nutrition professionals gathered at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. They came from all over the country to sample ramen noodle, Parmesan-crusted Alaskan pollock nuggets and low-sodium seasonings that can be used on a variety of meats.

But these foods won’t be served to adults. They’ll be consumed by kids in many of the country’s school cafeterias.

The proposal would upgrade the America's Center Convention Center in downtown St. Louis to include a new public park and large ballroom among other improvements to the complex, as depicted in this artist's rendering.
Explore St. Louis

To hear Kitty Ratcliffe tell it, the America’s Center Convention Center in downtown St. Louis has had a good run since it first opened in 1977 – and since it grew bigger with the addition of the Dome in 1995. But now, she says, the 42-year-old complex needs some major attention – to the tune of $175 million in upgrades and expansion.

“[America’s Center] was not really purposely designed as that entire complex [that it is today] – it’s really three different pieces that don’t really work all that well,” Ratcliffe told host Don Marsh during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And what we’ve seen in the last decade or so is that every major city that we compete against has either built a new building, like Nashville did, where they built a $623 million, brand-new convention center downtown, or has made major improvements to theirs. San Antonio spent $325 million, as an example.”

St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar, D-7th Ward, speaks during debate on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, over legislation to pay for convention center renovations.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 with final passage — The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has authorized borrowing $105 million to upgrade America's Center in downtown.

The result of Friday's vote was not a surprise, as aldermen had given initial approval to the bonds on Dec. 7 by a wide margin. The upgrades, including a larger ballroom and expanded loading dock space, are meant to help the city's convention business rebound.

Participants in FIRST Robotics tinker with their machine last week at America's Center. The robotics competition is moving to Detroit next year.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Now that the pomp and circumstance of Inauguration Day is wearing off in St. Louis, elected officials must confront a sizable challenge: upgrading the convention center.


The head of St. Louis’ Convention & Visitors Commission recommends roughly $350 million of upgrades for both the convention center and the dome that housed the St. Louis Rams. Already, conventions aren’t looking at St. Louis as a destination, CVC President Kitty Ratcliffe said, and without renovations, the dome may have to close entirely.

Tim Woodson shows off his pirate ship at the Progressive Insurance St. Louis Boat and Sportshow. The event was held at the Edward Jones Dome, the former home of the St. Louis Rams.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ever since the St. Louis Rams started packing up for the Los Angeles area, local policymakers have tried to embrace a potential silver lining – more space on the calendar for lucrative events. When the Rams weren’t losing lots and lots of games in the Edward Jones Dome, the facility was used for conventions, trade shows, monster truck rallies and awesome boat shows. The thought was that with the Rams no longer occupying the Dome during the fall, non-football events could fill the void.

"Captain" Tim Woodson shows off his pirate ship at the Progressive Insurance St. Louis Boat and Sportshow.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Tim Woodson developed a pretty unique skill: He creates pirate ships.

The St. Louis native has spent the last six years entertaining children at the Progressive Insurance St. Louis Boat and Sportshow. He’s even been able to sell some of his creations to a few of the tens of thousands of people who venture to event at the America’s Center and Edward Jones Dome.

St. Louis Convention & Visitor’s Commission

The City of St. Louis is hosting what tourism officials are calling the “Super Bowl of Conventions" this weekend.

The members of American Society of Association Executives are responsible for booking some $60 billion in convention activity annually.

All told, some 5,000 hospitality industry reps and executives will be in St. Louis from Saturday to Tuesday.  

The purpose of the convention is for those reps to try to convince 1,500 different associations to hold annual meetings in their city.