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New center fits Augusta to a TEE

Courtesy Augusta CVB
What midsize city is building a convention facility called the TEE Center?

If you are a golfer, you might guess Augusta, Ga. You would be right.

The home of The Masters golf tournament, Augusta came up with a clever and memorable acronym that fits the city and its facility to a tee.

The TEE Center, short for the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center, is on schedule to open in January, adjacent to the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center in the city’s riverfront district.

In April, I took a hardhat tour of the TEE center, a 38,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit space that is being added to the existing conference center. Combining the conference center, the Marriott meeting space and the TEE center, Augusta will, in January, offer 100,000 square feet of meeting space under one roof that is connected to a 372-room hotel.

Several groups are already onboard to meet there, beginning with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police in January and in early 2013, Mary Kay Inc. and the Georgia Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.

“The TEE Center allows us to go to groups that have outgrown our space over the years and obviously to many new groups as well,” said Katrina Selby, director of marketing communications for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’ll have 38,000 square feet of new trade-show space adjacent to meeting rooms and breakout space that exist within the Marriott.” The trade-show floor will accommodate up to 196 booths and 1,800 people.

From the Marriott, you can walk right out and onto the terraces of the Augusta Riverwalk. The old cotton warehouses near the river, many of which have been rehabbed for commercial use, inspired the design of the TEE Center, inside and out. The building even incorporates an old grocery store edifice.

Like the rest of Augusta, the building is sure to have charm. It will also give Augusta the chance to convince thousands of people that the city, the only town in America that hosts one of the four major PGA golf tournaments each year, knows how to be hospitable all year long.