Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center turned 25 this year. The convention center has served 4 million guests and earned revenues of more than $145 million since its founding in 1993.
One of the earliest supporters of bringing a convention center to the city was past Bellevue Convention Center board chair and Wallace Properties CEO Bob Wallace.
“In 1993, we had a few hotels and knew that attracting larger groups was essential in order for the visitor industry to grow in Bellevue,” Wallace said. “Now, we’ve become a major destination for events and large group business thanks to the early wisdom of many in the city.”
A lot has changed on the Eastside over the past 25 years. For one, Bellevue’s population has increased 59 percent, to 142,000. The number of employees working in downtown areas of the city has more than doubled, to over 50,000 workers. The city’s hotel industry has added more than 3,000 rooms and 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Occupancy rates are currently at a prosperous 73 percent.
During that time, the Meydenbauer Center has grown alongside the city. The organization estimates its cumulative economic impact total nearly $600 million. The center employs more than 170 people, nearly a tenth of whom have been with the company for over 15 years.
And as Bellevue’s residents and workers have become more and more diverse, Meydenbauer has followed suit. Its arts and theatre offerings now span a much wider range of cultures, with productions like Japan Fair, Chinese opera, and Eastside Indian dance.
“Meydenbauer has been and will continue to be the catalyst for Bellevue’s innovation — it’s the place where business gets done, and we’ve seen this throughout the past 25 years,” said Stacy Graven, Meydenbauer’s CEO and an employee since 1991, even before the center opened its doors. “We’ve been fortunate to hire and retain incredible employees that have fueled our growth and provide us with the ability to execute dynamic, first-in-class guest experiences, meetings, and events.”