In the early 1970s, a group of community leaders from the public and private sectors conceived the notion of building a convention center in Seattle to foster new economic development and increase hotel occupancy rates. In 1982, by action of the state Legislature, a public non-profit corporation was established to acquire land and to design, construct, promote and operate the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC). A site adjacent to and above Interstate 5 was selected and initial construction began in the fall of 1985, continuing for nearly three years. The first scheduled event took place on June 18, 1988. By the early 1990s, increasing demand for exhibition space and Seattle as a destination made it clear that the WSCC would need to grow. Plans were made to effectively double the available event space by building an adjoining and connected facility to the north across Pike Street.
On July 9, 2001, little more than two years after beginning construction, a ribbon was cut to officially open the expanded convention center, enabling the WSCC to retain its existing customers and attract new business. That project has also spurred other building and revitalization projects that have created an economic base for sustained growth in the downtown core. Hotels, restaurants, shops, office towers, and high-rise condominiums and apartments now occupy street frontage that was previously underutilized or vacant.
The WSCC expanded again in July 2010 with the opening of The Conference Center (TCC). Located at the northeast corner of 8th Avenue and Pike Street, this LEED-certified space was originally designated to be the new home of the Museum of History and Industry following the 2001 expansion. As the needs of the museum changed, the WSCC acquired the property and began a complete conversion of the four-level facility. TCC’s 71,000 square feet provides the room necessary to service groups that had become too large to utilize the original Convention Center. TCC can either stand alone as a self-contained conference facility or it can combine with the entire WSCC to offer an impressive total of 414,722 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.
The first full year of operation for WSCC Public Facilities District (PFD) began in 2011. Authorized by the state Legislature in April of 2010 and subsequently created by King County, the PFD is responsible for the management, operations, capital improvements and financial success of the WSCC.