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Baltimore Convention Center Could Be About To Get Major Upgrade

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Six hundred million dollars. That's how much the state could end up spending to expand and remodel Baltimore's Convention Center.

Rick Ritter has more on the plans and why some say it needs to be done.

Many say the Convention Center has fallen behind others across the country and Baltimore needs an expansion in order to stay competitive.

From Sky Eye Chopper 13, Baltimore's Convention Center looks better than ever. On the ground, cracks and dirty walls make it hard to look past the building's exterior---which could soon get a makeover.

"It's very important that the state buys into that vision because it means so much to the city and economy," said Mike Evitts, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

State officials will ask Governor Larry Hogan for a $3 million study to start and explore a $600 million expansion. That would double the center's floor space and add a new hotel.

"Something needs to happen with the Convention Center. Visit Baltimore has been very clear about that," Evitts said.

The center already hosts about 45 conventions and 10 trade shows a year, which rakes in roughly $80 million.

"If you buy a car and you don't take care of your car, your car won't run so well. It's not that we haven't taken care of the Convention Center but everyone else is getting nicer cars," Evitts said.

The original Convention Center opened in 1979. More than 30 years later, most of its infrastructure is still here while other cities---like Philadelphia, DC and Chicago---have upgraded.

"If we're successful with our goals, then we would produce more jobs and business opportunities," said Baltimore Convention Center Executive Director Peggy Diakis.

It's a pricey investment that could produce a crucial boost to the city.

State officials still need to ask Governor Hogan and the General Assembly to launch the study. That's when they'll get a better idea on how much an expansion would exactly cost. The expansion has been discussed in Annapolis throughout this legislative session. The General Assembly session closes next month.

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