Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 29 2014

Check Out The Outdoor Convention Center Experiment in Boston

By David McMillin

Meeting professionals are always concerned about what’s inside a convention center — the number of meeting rooms, the amount of exhibit space, the bandwidth capabilities and more. While all of these details are essential to a meeting’s success, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is equally focused on what’s happening outside the walls of the soon-to-be-expanded Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. That focus has paved the way to the Lawn on D, 2.7 acres worth of green space with bocce ball courts, ping pong tables and food trucks that sit alongside an empty stretch of the city. It gives meeting attendees and Boston residents an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, but the Lawn on D is also appealing to today’s digitally-addicted consumer. The space is wired for Internet access. It’s piquing the interest of plenty of meeting professionals.

“There has been a lot of interest and curiosity from meeting planners already for this innovative space, and we expect that events coming to the BCEC in 2015 will use it frequently,” James E. Rooney, Executive Director, MCCA, says.

Some groups have already added the Lawn on D to their programming. The space will play a key role in Boston-based software company Hubspot’s INBOUND convention in September. During the day, food trucks will provide lunch. In the evening, the group will use the Lawn on D for an evening reception. The Lawn on D can accommodate up to 3,000 people.

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Testing, Testing

It’s an exciting addition, but you can expect to see plenty of changes on the Lawn on D in the near future. In fact, the current space won’t exist once by this time in 2016. As the MCCA gears up for a massive expansion at the BCEC, the park will evolve based on what the MCCA learns as Boston residents and convention attendees use the space.

“It is really a lab space that will help us determine exactly what we'll do with a permanent outdoor space as a part of our BCEC expansion,” Rooney says.

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“The ultimate goal is to build outdoor event space as part of our BCEC expansion that incorporates the lessons we learn over the next two years from operating the Lawn on D,” Rooney says. “Over the years I have observed that despite thorough planning, world class architects and focus groups, you learn more about how a space will be used when you actually allow people to use it.”

By the time the final space is finished, the Boston convention package will offer even more for meeting professionals, too. Rooney says that two new hotels, an Aloft and an Element, are currently under construction across the street from the final site for the Lawn on D.

More Than Meetings

The space will certainly be a big asset for meeting attendees, but an outdoor space like the Lawn on D also helps connect the meetings industry with the greater public. The currently calendar includes plenty of concerts and art exhibits for Boston residents to enjoy.

“The Lawn on D will provide the kind of eclectic entertainment and activity that makes Boston a more attractive destination for its residents and visitors alike – from families, to teens, to young professionals working in the South Boston Waterfront and everyone in between,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, says. “Kudos to the MCCA for thinking outside the box when it comes to public event space, and for creating a place that doesn’t just meet a business need, but also adds to the urban design of a growing neighborhood.”

Interested in learning more about how the Lawn on D could play a role in your upcoming event? Click here.

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