Raleigh plans a party

It will mark convention center's debut

Staff WriterFebruary 21, 2008 

— A two-day downtown celebration Sept. 5 and 6 will mark the opening of Raleigh's new convention center.

Mayor Charles Meeker and Wake commissioners' Chairman Joe Bryan on Wednesday announced plans for a street festival to be called "Raleigh Wide Open III" and an indoor "showcase extravaganza." They expect 100,000 people to attend.

"It's going to be the biggest party our community has ever had," Meeker said.

The events start with a ribbon-cutting at noon Friday, Sept. 5. The celebration will run from 5 to 11 p.m. that day and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. The convention center's showcase will include an "international flavor festival" and previews of future events.

Also, officials plan a black-tie gala featuring the N.C. Symphony at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11.

The 500,000-square-foot convention center, between South Salisbury and South McDowell streets, bears a price tag of $221 million. Also set to open is a Marriott hotel with an underground parking garage. The hotel, between South Salisbury and Fayetteville streets, is scheduled to open in late July.

Organizers are looking for corporate sponsors to pay as much as $50,000 to connect their companies' names to the opening celebration.

david.bracken@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4548

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