Here’s what you need to know about the renovated SAFE Credit Union Convention Center

The City of Sacramento, along with its partners SAFE Credit Union and Visit Sacramento, will celebrate a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony for the expanded SAFE Credit Union Convention Center on June 3.

“The building is substantially complete and we are excited to celebrate this accomplishment,” said project manager Sabrina Tefft. “The SAFE Credit Union Convention Center will be an economic driver for our community.”

Here’s what you need to know about the project and the building.

About the project

The City of Sacramento since 2017 has been working to renovate and expand the Sacramento Convention Center (renamed SAFE Credit Union Convention Center), the Memorial Auditorium and the Community Center Theater (renamed SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center). The three buildings make up the SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts District, collectively called the C3 Project during construction.

The SAFE Credit Union Convention Center began its renovation/expansion in December 2018. Construction is substantially complete and the first citywide convention (SacAnime) is booked for September 2021.

The SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center will be completed summer 2021. The Memorial Auditorium reopened in May 2019.

About the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center

Owned and operated by: The City of Sacramento

Location: 1400 J St. Sacramento, CA 95814

Total Convention Center project cost: $245 million

Funding: City Council in 2018 unanimously approved $350 million in bonds to finance the renovation/expansion of the three buildings. The bonds are repaid by the “transient occupancy tax,” or TOT. This is a 12 percent tax on hotel-room and short-term rental stays used for tourism-related projects. In addition, local hotels agreed to pay for the construction of the Convention Centers’ new $50 million ballroom.

Total C3 project funding (including TOT bonds): $368 million

The building: The former building was 397,311 square feet. Post-renovation, the building is now 508,563 square feet and features

  • 240,000 square feet programable space
  • 160,000 square foot exhibit hall
  • 15,000 square foot outdoor plaza
  • 80,000 square feet meeting space
  • 37 breakout rooms
  • 22,000 square feet of outdoor space (including new activities plaza)

Fun facts:

  • 92 percent of the materials of the demolition were recycled.
  • More than 670 tons of steel form the framework on the new west side of the building.
  • This project during its highest peak had about 300 workers per day.

New and improved

The Convention Center is situated in the heart of Sacramento’s Entertainment District with world class hotels, restaurants and retail. The increased exhibit and meeting space will maximize the opportunities to sell the space, activating the city more days out of the year. New floor to ceiling windows throughout to capture natural light and bring the “outdoors in” and public art adds to the “canvas” of the convention center. The old building had just one lobby; now three main lobbies greatly improve access to and circulation within the building for guests to enjoy and network. The expansion will allow the City to host multiple events and maximize the use of the building.

Don’t forget the new names! The SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center and the Memorial Auditorium now make up the SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts District.

Expected economic impact

City analysis projects the expansion will result in an estimated increase in hotel room night occupancy from 48% to 62% within five years. Citywide conventions are expected to increase from about 36 to 61 annual events by 2025, resulting in an increase of more than 150,000 new hotel room nights. Convention attendee spending averages more than $100 in spending per day in Sacramento, with an average hotel room costing about $150 per night.

The Convention Center and the pandemic

The construction of the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center and the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center moved with great momentum despite the pandemic. The contractors adopted strict guidelines for everyone working on both sites and limited outside visitors. The projects remained within budget despite the pandemic-related challenges.

The City and Visit Sacramento are working to ensure that when COVID-19 restrictions allow conventions, Sacramento will offer a safe and flexible location for events. The SAFE Credit Union Convention Center received accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), and City staff are part of a task force conferring with leading health officials about the safe return of meetings and conventions in the state.

Convention Center key players:

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