An exciting month is underway at Rochester, Minnesota's newly-expanded Mayo Civic Center, with the first post-expansion convention being held in the center's brand-new event suites on April 6-7.

"After more than two years of construction, we are thrilled that our beautiful new venues are up and running," said Donna Drews, executive director of the Mayo Civic Center. The expansion nearly doubled the facility's capacity for hosting events, Drews noted. "We're excited for clients, conference attendees, event-goers, and community members to see our transformation and use our new ballroom, event suites, meeting rooms, and outdoor Riverfront Plaza."

TSP, Inc., Betsch Associates and Knutson Construction were key players in the $84 million Mayo Civic Center expansion project, which began in March, 2015 and was substantially completed on April 1, 2017. The first major event in the newly-finished venues will be the Minnesota Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Conference on April 6-7. The group of 300 pharmacists will utilize several new suites.

History & Background

Initially constructed in 1939 as a gift from Doctors Will and Charlie Mayo to the City of Rochester, the Mayo Civic Center has stayed true to its legacy as Rochester's first civic auditorium while growing and evolving into the upper Midwest's premier convention center. It began as a dual-venue complex including an arena for athletic events and an auditorium for theatrical and musical productions. It has been expanded and renovated several times, and was renamed the Mayo Civic Center in 1984.

The effort to create the most recent expansion-which will increase the center's capacity to host conventions, meetings, and conferences-was first broached a decade ago, and design plans were drawn up a few years later. In 2014, the state approved $35 million in funding for the project and the city, in partnership with the local hospitality industry, invested an additional $49 million which includes support generated from a portion of lodging tax collection. Construction officially began on March 30, 2015.

A Premier Site for Conventions, Trade Shows, Social and Entertainment Events

Located in the heart of downtown Rochester, the expanded Mayo Civic Center features Minnesota's largest ballroom (40,000 square foot) with seating capacity of more than 4,000 classroom-style or 2,000 banquet-style. In addition, the center features stunning pre-function areas with views of the Zumbro River and downtown Rochester, 23 breakout rooms, a brand-new 7,000 square foot banquet production kitchen, and the 7,500 square foot Riverfront Plaza, an outdoor reception venue. In total, the Mayo Civic Center now offers more than 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and exhibit space, ideal for many different industries and events, such as medical and technical conferences, large business meetings, and healthcare summits. The center's venues are all designed to accommodate the sophisticated production, AV, and wireless service requirements of today's meeting planners.

"We are thrilled about our beautiful new convention center addition, which equips us to host a broader range of conventions, meetings, and events," said Drews. "It was a real milestone adding several new high-quality, versatile venues to our center, and we're already hearing positive feedback."

Besides the new convention facilities, the Mayo Civic Center offers:

  • Major pre-existing venues: A 15,000 square foot Auditorium, a 25,000 square foot Arena, a 25,000 square foot Exhibit Hall, and the 9,000 square foot Presentation Hall.
  • Catering choices: While most convention centers require clients to use their own in-house caterer, Mayo Civic Center allows clients to choose between four Signature Caterers to find the best culinary fit for their event.
  • Advanced audio/visual capabilities: More than $7 million in technology additions and enhancements were completed with the 2017 expansion. Options include 20k high-definition projectors, 28 x 16 foot projection screens, Smart Board high-definition displays, advanced audio/video and teleconferencing capabilities, and more.
  • Exceptional customer service: The Mayo Civic Center's team of dedicated, experienced event services professionals directs more than 300 events per year. From a group's arrival until their departure, the team takes a friendly, hands-on approach to ensuring events run smoothly.

Rochester on the Rise

Known as a warm and welcoming community, Rochester, Minnesota recently increased its appeal with a revitalized downtown fueled by the Mayo Civic Center expansion. Rochester, the state's third-largest city with a population of 110,000, is distinguished by its friendliness, scenic beauty, and convenience. Rochester is easily accessible from many major Midwest cities, and Rochester International Airport provides direct flights to and from Chicago, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.

The Mayo Civic Center's downtown location offers visitors easy access-via the streets, skyways, or underground climate-controlled walkways-to new and renovated hotels, restaurants, shopping found only in Rochester, and entertainment. Rochester is equipped with more than 5,600 hotel rooms, more than 2,000 of which are skyway-connected to Mayo Civic Center.

"The completion of the Mayo Civic Center expansion marks a significant accomplishment for Rochester," said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau (RCVB), which partners with Mayo Civic Center to market, sell, and book events in the center. "The Mayo Civic Center's new convention facilities will help position Rochester as a more vibrant community and introduce our destination to visitors who may travel here for an event and stay or return because they realize they like our Midwest charm, reimagined downtown, or excellent local dining scene."

Fun Facts

  • Architects and engineers from TSP, Inc. designed the Mayo Civic Center's south "wave wall" to reflect the lines of the adjacent Zumbro River. The wave wall was designed with 783 panes of glass.
  • The expansion project used more than 1,400 tons of structural steel. That is equivalent to approximately 1,555 Smart Cars.
  • 914,368 feet of power wire was installed, equal to about 174 miles, which is the distance from Rochester to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • 35,235 square feet of glass was installed, equivalent to 105,179 iPad screens.
  • More than 300 internet access points were added during construction.
  • 21 semi-loads of new furniture were delivered, including 6,000 banquet chairs and more than 1,000 tables.
  • According to Knutson Construction, 100 construction workers were onsite daily at the peak of the project, and approximately 500 total construction workers were involved in the project.
  • The 151,258 square feet of carpet that was laid throughout the building could roughly cover a city block.
  • $7 million of technology improvements went into the new building, including state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities, sound and lighting controls, and added internet access points for enhanced connectivity.
  • 95 percent of the new lighting is energy efficient LEDs.

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To schedule a tour of the newly-expanded Mayo Civic Center or to request an interview with a representative of the Mayo Civic Center, please contact Erin Okins, or 507-328-2123.