Which US convention center is biggest?

While contemplating yesterday’s story about how the dinky, hated Javits Center is in danger of being razed, we got to wondering just what are the biggest convention centers in the U.S.? Finding this information isn’t that easy Google-wise. However, we found the information buried in Wikipedia:

1. McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, 2,760,000-square-foot (256,000 m2) of exhibition space[3]
2. Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, Exhibition space: 2,100,000-square-foot (200,000 m2). Total area: 7,000,000-square-foot (650,000 m2)[4]
3. Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, Exhibition space: 2,000,000-square-foot (190,000 m2), 3,200,000-square-foot (300,000 m2) total space[5]
4. Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Massachusetts, 1,700,000-square-foot (160,000 m2) total area[citation needed]
5. Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia, 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) exhibition area; 3,900,000-square-foot (360,000 m2) total area[6]
6. Cobo Center, Detroit, Michigan: 700,000-square-foot (65,000 m2) exhibition area; 2,400,000-square-foot (220,000 m2) total area
7. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.: 2,300,000-square-foot (210,000 m2) total area
8. Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado: 584,000-square-foot (54,300 m2) exhibition area; 2,200,000-square-foot (200,000 m2) total area
9. Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, Texas: 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) exhibition area; 2,000,000-square-foot (190,000 m2) total area
10. George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, Texas, 853,000-square-foot (79,200 m2) exhibition area; 1,800,000-square-foot (170,000 m2) total area

11. Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio: 426,000-square-foot (39,600 m2) exhibition area; 1,700,000-square-foot (160,000 m2) total area
12. David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 330,000-square-foot (31,000 m2) exhibition area; 1,450,000-square-foot (135,000 m2) total area
13. Reliant Center, Houston, Texas: 706,000-square-foot (65,600 m2) exhibition area; 1,400,000-square-foot (130,000 m2) total area
14. Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas: 440,000-square-foot (41,000 m2) exhibition area; 1,300,000-square-foot (120,000 m2) total area
15. Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland: 425,000-square-foot (39,500 m2) exhibition area; 1,225,000-square-foot (113,800 m2) total area
16. Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Kentucky: 1,200,000-square-foot (110,000 m2) exhibition area
17. Sands Expo and Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada: 1,200,000-square-foot (110,000 m2) total area
18. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego California: 615,700-square-foot (57,200 m2) exhibition area; 1,107,000-square-foot (102,800 m2) total area
19. Hawai’i Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawai’i: 1,100,000-square-foot (100,000 m2) total area
20. Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana: 1,100,000-square-foot (100,000 m2)

21. Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada: 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) total area
22. Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon: 255,000-square-foot (23,700 m2) exhibition area; 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) total area
23. Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 679,000-square-foot (63,100 m2) exhibition area; 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) total area
24. Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona: 312,000-square-foot (29,000 m2) exhibition area; 900,000-square-foot (84,000 m2) total area
25. Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas: 246,092-square-foot (22,862.7 m2) exhibition area; 881,400-square-foot (81,880 m2) total area
26. Donald E. Stephens Convention Center: Rosemont, Illinois: 840,000-square-foot (78,000 m2) exhibition area
27. Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California: 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) total area.
28. Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California: 720,000-square-foot (67,000 m2) exhibition area
29. Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, California: 700,000-square-foot (65,000 m2) exhibition area
30. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City, New York: 675,000-square-foot (62,700 m2) exhibition area

31. Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Indiana: 654,000-square-foot (60,800 m2) exhibition area
32. Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida: 600,000-square-foot (56,000 m2) total area
33. Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah: 515,000-square-foot (47,800 m2) exhibition area
34. Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey: 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) exhibition area
35. Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina: 150,000-square-foot (14,000 m2) exhibition area; 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) total area
36. Bartle Hall Convention Center, Kansas City, Missouri: 388,000-square-foot (36,000 m2) exhibition area
37. Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada: 381,000-square-foot (35,400 m2) exhibition area
38. Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, North Carolina: 280,000-square-foot (26,000 m2) exhibition area
39. Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle, Washington: 205,700-square-foot (19,110 m2)
40. Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts: 193,000-square-foot (17,900 m2)
41. San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California: 143,000-square-foot (13,300 m2) exhibition area

This list is kind of wack. We’ve been in the Baltimore Convention Center and NO EFFING WAY is it bigger than Javits or SDCC. Unfortunately, this list is by something called “total area,” not actual exhibition space. Like Baltimore CC has a TOTAL AREA that includes the Bromo Seltzer Tower…or something.

We do know one thing. As dinky as you think the Javits is…it is actually LARGER than the San Diego Convention Center! It’s true! The Javits is the 19th largest CC in the U.S., while the San Diego Convention Center clocks in at 24th.

We’ll also call out this section of the list:

26. Donald E. Stephens Convention Center: Rosemont, Illinois: 840,000-square-foot (78,000 m2) exhibition area
27. Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California: 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) total area.
28. Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California: 720,000-square-foot (67,000 m2) exhibition area
29. Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, California: 700,000-square-foot (65,000 m2) exhibition area
30. Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City, New York: 675,000-square-foot (62,700 m2) exhibition area

That’s right, horrible old Rosemont is bigger than Anaheim, LA, Moscone, OR Javits. Cra-cra!


  1. Haha. Having exhibited at the Donald E. Stephens countless times, “horrible old Rosemont” is a good assessment. At least it has 2 nice restaurants and a movie theater nearby. The McCormick has nothing for miles around.

  2. Synsidar says:

    The August 2011 Trade Show Executive (TSE) has a list of the top ten convention centers, based on “prime exhibit space”:

    1. McCormick Place (Chicago, IL) 2,600,000 sf
    2. Orange County Convention Center (Orlando, FL) 2,100,000 sf
    3. Las Vegas Convention Center (Las Vegas, NV) 1,984,755 sf
    4. Georgia World Congress Center (Atlanta, GA) 1,400,000 sf
    5.* Kentucky Exposition Center (Louisville, KY) 1,100,000 sf

    The Kentucky convention center is #16 on the Wikipedia list. The ten biggest centers have 25 percent of the exhibition space in the U.S.


  3. Torsten Adair says:

    Balmer has 300K in Halls A-G.

    Javits has 410K on the Third Floor.
    Then there’s 230K on 1ABC,(1D=theater, 1E=rooms), and 54.4K in the North Pavilion.
    694.4K total.

    San Diego: Halls A-H = 525,701 sq.ft.
    “Building Overview
    2.6 million gross sq.ft., 615,701 sq.ft. total exhibit space and 204,114 sq.ft. overall meeting space.”
    (They consider the Sails Pavilion as exhibition space, 90K.)

    Stephens/Rosemont: Halls A-G = 787K

    Las Vegas Convention Center (not actually located in Las Vegas, NV)
    C Halls + N Halls + S Halls (each the size of normal convention center anywhere else) =
    1,940,631 sq.ft.

    McCormick Place Halls A-F= 2,598,500 sq.ft.
    (Hall A=840K)

    Orange County, FL
    “2,055,353 Sq’ Exhibition space”
    (They have the coolest website.)

    “The McCormick has nothing for miles around.”

    Two miles to the Art Institute of Chicago and The Loop. But there’s lots of restaurants along Cernak, and in Chinatown, right near the Red Line station, one mile from the Hyatt.

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    For comparison:
    The New York Coliseum, formerly located on Columbus Circle, had 323,000 square feet for exhibition space in four exhibition halls.

    It was sold by the MTA (via the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority) for $455 Million in 1985.

    OOOOOooooh! Photos!

  5. David Serchay says:

    I’m not sure if it’s included in the numbers, but Orange County, FL Convention Center (home of Megacon) also has an additional building.

  6. David Serchay says:

    Of course, Megacon only part of the overall building.

  7. David Serchay says:

    Only USES part (sorry about that). BTW it’s also the current location for Star Wars Celebration.

  8. Torsten Adair says:

    Mr. Serchay, that number comes from the OC,FL website.
    The North/South building has 950,282, the West building 1,103,538 sq.ft. (according to their website).

  9. mike scigliano says:

    It seems the list is missing at least one convention hall. The Long Beach Convention Center has over 224,000 sq ft so I should rank at the 39 slot. And that’s just their main exhibit halls.

    So it stands to reason that others are missing as well.

  10. The rather blandly named America’s Center in St. Louis is 502,000 square feet, although that does include the Edward Jones Dome, the football stadium where the Rams play. (That is legit to include that, though, as the larger events there, such as the auto show, spill out onto the football field.) Sadly, there has never been a comics convention there.

  11. Oops, forgot the link for that last post: http://explorestlouis.com/meetings-conventions/americas-center/

  12. Where is the Anaheim Convention Center on the list? We have 813,000 square feet of exhibit space and 1.6 million square feet of gross space.

  13. Synsidar says:

    Where is the Anaheim Convention Center on the list?

    Anaheim came in at #27 on the Wikipedia list and at #13 on the Trade Show Executive list.


  14. Torsten Adair says:

    St. Louis:

    Halls 1-5 = 340,000 sq.ft.
    Hall 6 (the football dome) = 104 – 145,000 sq.ft. depending if seating is retracted.

    I had relations near St. Louis, and it always surprised me how small the comics community was in relation to the population (18th in population, 21st in media). Google Maps shows only one comics shop within St. Louis proper, Mo’s Comics. There are numerous universities and colleges in the metropolitan area. Or does Chicago and Indianapolis grab most of the geeks?

    It’s a good spot for a convention. Four hours from Indianapolis, Kansas City, Memphis, Louisville; five hours from Chicago and Nashville. Hold it during the school year to grab kids from Mizzou (two hours away).

  15. McCormick Place was, at one point, the largest building either in the US or the world. As for there not being anything for miles around, that simply isn’t true. It’s a short cab ride to Michigan Avenue or the Loop and the fantastic attractions of both areas.

  16. We do know one thing. As dinky as you think the Javits is…it is actually LARGER than the San Diego Convention Center! It’s true! The Javits is the 19th largest CC in the U.S., while the San Diego Convention Center clocks in at 24th.

    But: maybe “size” alone is not the criterion that matters when it comes to evaluating the appeal of various Convention Centers, as shown in a recently published industry ranking:


    Perhaps the lack of Javits presence on this list— losing out to the smaller San Diego Convention Center (#10 in the ranking, along with two other CA centers)— lead NY Gov. Cuomo et al to look at replacing the Manhanttan site with a newer and larger Con venue at Queens…


  17. tnchernandez says:

    This list is majorly skewed! Anaheim Convention Center isn’t on this list and boasts a total area space of over 1.6 million sq. feet., as does the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. This list looks like it is only counting the expo space and not total space that the author quotes. Case in point, LA Convention Center’s 720,000 sq ft of space is only it’s expo space; it has an additional 147,000 sq ft of meeting/pre-function space.

  18. Michigander says:

    Well Detroit Cobo is under expansion and renovation once complete would place it around 3rd place. Here is a video of the project will be a first class indeed http://youtu.be/E1NRu8Eb0Ok also to note with all the New Development Downtown & once the redwings move into their new stadium in the next few years i bet you that will make room for an Additional sq footage bringing Cobo to #1 ahead of McCormick Place.

  19. Torsten Adair says:

    While meeting space is important to comic cons, for conventions, it’s all about the exhibition space.

    That’s what funds conventions: the rental for exhibitors to push their product. It’s also what draws attendees to conventions. Sure, part of it is “professional development”, but how many would attend a comic con if it was just panels?

    Detroit sounds interesting.
    The Cobo Arena is being renovated into a massive ballroom, opening this summer. Below that level will be new meeting rooms.

    Four ballrooms, from 1160 to 3600 theater seating.

    Floor One, the exhibition hall level, has 600,000 sq,ft. After renovation, it will have 622K.
    Michigan Hall, one floor below, has 99,484 sq.ft. It can seat about 7,000. It connects to Wayne Hall on the floor above. (How awesome would it be to have a comic con in “Wayne Hall”?!?)

    Here’s the brochure for the expansion:

    The Joe Louis Arena continues to be used by the Redwings. No replacement site has been chosen yet. Unless that mes of highway to the west can be redesigned, it looks like the Arena might have space for an additional 300K (double that if stacked). Enclose the People Mover, and grab the parking lot to the west, and more space can be created.

    The North American International Auto Show had a ten-day attendance of 770,932 in 2012. The next one is next week.

    Cobo made a profit last year, even with a reduction in state subsidies.

  20. Torsten Adair says:

    News on possible financing, but the Billionaire owner owes property taxes on the arena!


  21. T ADAMS says:


    go to i-x center.com

  22. Mark Farina says:

    Couldnt they come up with a more up to date picture of the four exhibition halls that make up McCormick Place in Chicago? The on in this page was destroyed by a massive fire in the 1960’s and has been subsequently replaced by the original replacement, Lakeside Center which is. Virtually obsolete by today’s standards.

  23. M. Percy says:

    I have not been to many convention centers, but which ones would you say has the best or coolest environment directly outside of the convention center? San Diego CC is absolutely amazing because it’s right on the harbor and Gaslamp District. It is the same with the Long Beach CC.

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