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New and Improved Convention Centers

U.S. Cellular Center

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

After a flood devastated Cedar Rapids in 2008, city officials led the charge on a $144 million project to inject new life into downtown and new money into area businesses.

The U.S. Cellular Center project comprised three parts: renovating the 9,600-seat U.S. Cellular Arena, renovating the 267-room DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and building the new 80,000-square-foot U.S. Cellular Convention Center. All three buildings are connected in one large complex, so “you’re able to flow from the hotel right into the convention center space,” said Matt Felling, general manager of the complex.

The project was completed last year and celebrated its grand opening with a sold-out Lady Antebellum concert June 1, 2013.

“The entire complex was the vision of the city,” Felling said. “The city owns it and developed it in order to revitalize the downtown of Cedar Rapids after the flood in 2008. It has become the icon, the center of attention in Cedar Rapids.”

The city bought the hotel, formerly the Crowne Plaza Five Seasons, and the renovation included redoing all the guest rooms and public spaces, as well as adding a new restaurant and lounge, called 350 First, on the 16th floor.

The new convention center can hold about 2,000 people at banquet seating between the 28,000-square-foot exhibit hall and the 12,000-square-foot ballroom, Felling said. The center also features flexible meeting space, including several breakout rooms and prefunction areas.

The arena and the convention center can be used together — and will be — for events like political campaigns, a regional billiard convention and a divisional fire chief conference, Felling said.