Who We Are

Hip and progressive, fun and sophisticated, open and welcoming, Ohio’s largest and fastest growing city is shining. From entertainment to fashion, from business to shopping, Columbus’ best qualities make it a prime destination for a diverse range of visitors. At the heart of the action sits the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, owner and operator of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel, Nationwide Arena and parking facilities totaling more than 3,200 spaces. Poised at the city’s convention and tourism epicenter, the FCCFA’s facilities are where people meet Columbus.

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Highlights

Created in 1988 to finance a new Columbus convention center.
Took ownership of Ohio Center in 1996 and Nationwide Arena in 2012.
Has never increased the hotel occupancy tax rates since establishing them in the late 1980s.
Owns one of the nation’s best Hiltons, the Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel.

The Franklin County Commissioners created the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority in 1988 to finance the construction and operation of a new Columbus convention center. As a unique government unit responsible for developing, building and operating convention facilities, the FCCFA today owns and operates the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel and Nationwide Arena, as well as our four parking facilities.

In addition to the Convention Center, Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel and Nationwide Arena, the FCCFA also owns land used to develop the Hyatt Regency, the Drury Inn and Suites and various parking facilities.

The FCCFA is empowered to issue tax and lease revenue bonds backed by the hotel tax receipts, and currently levies a 4 percent countywide hotel occupancy tax and an additional 0.9 percent citywide hotel occupancy tax. These tax rates have remained unchanged since they were established in 1988.

Completely self-sustaining, the FCCFA operates independently of other governmental units and is overseen by an 11-member board appointed by the Franklin County Commissioners (six members), the City of Columbus (three members) and suburban mayors (two members).

Our History

A Convention Center is Born

The FCCFA may be most closely associated with The Greater Columbus Convention Center, a landmark facility that opened in 1993 and anchors the city’s Short North Arts District. Built in response to growing demand for conventions within the region, community leaders took the bold step of investing in the future with a one-of-a-kind convention center.

Running along the east side of High Street between Nationwide Boulevard and Goodale Street, the Convention Center succeeded the Ohio Center, a mixed-use facility that opened at High and Nationwide in 1980, but which soon proved too small to serve as an effective convention center.

The new Convention Center immediately distinguished itself as a unique and progressive vehicle for achieving the vision that city and county leaders had for Columbus. Inspired by the former rail terminal on which it sits, the Convention Center is marked by sharp angles inside and out, spacious walkways and unique spaces that signal a bold community not content with the ordinary.

Appearing on the cover of Architecture magazine in May 1993, the nation’s newest convention center was hailed as “astounding for the ways its complexity and ambition have broken out of the architect’s atelier – and out of the ghettoes of protected cultural and academic institutions – into a public arena.”

With a total 1.7 million square feet today, the Convention Center opened with 215,000 square feet of exhibit space, 50,000 square feet of meeting space and a 25,000 square foot ballroom. The design by architect Peter Eisenman reflects High Street’s tradition of narrow structures with articulate facades, and incorporates horizontal linear forms suggestive of the rail yards that once occupied the site.

The Convention Center was expanded in 2001 with an additional 125,000 square feet of exhibition space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space and a new 15,000 square foot ballroom – a total expansion of 155,000 square feet. It is a major contributor to the local tourism industry, which in 2013 brought nearly 38 million visitors to Columbus and pumped almost $9 billion into the local economy.

Just a short walk from major entertainment, sports, dining, arts and shopping destinations, the Convention Center is very much part of a vibrant, growing neighborhood. No wonder the Greater Columbus Convention Center has become one of America’s favorite sites for local, state, regional and national groups and organizations.


Answering bell: The Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel

Columbus’ position as the fastest-growing city in Ohio and one of the most vibrant rising cities in the nation positioned it as a key convention destination and made it increasingly clear that continued success would require additional accommodations. Tourism and convention advocates agreed, making the case for additional hotel rooms to attract larger conventions and events to Columbus. Community leaders determined a new 500-room convention hotel would meet the room requirements of 92 percent of the conventions targeted by the community, whereas the city’s previous capacity could accommodate only 65 percent of targeted conventions.

Franklin County Commissioners agreed to back the hotel with credit enhancements in case other revenue sources proved insufficient, and the City of Columbus agreed to allow the hotel tax to be used to finance hotel development. In 2010, the FCCFA began construction of the Hilton Columbus Downtown across High Street from the Convention Center. The 532-room hotel opened in 2012, and has been paying down construction debt even more quickly than anticipated.


Private/public collaboration: Nationwide Arena

In 2012, the FCCFA took ownership of Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets and anchor of the successful Arena District, financing the project by collecting up to a third of the Ohio casino tax revenue owed to the City of Columbus and Franklin County. The agreement was struck in partnership with the City of Columbus, Franklin County and The Ohio State University, protecting thousands of jobs in the Arena District while ensuring that the Blue Jackets will continue to call Nationwide Arena home through 2039.

Ohio Center groundbreaking

February 1978

Ohio Center dedication

September 10, 1980

Birth of the FCCFA

July 12, 1988

Greater Columbus Convention Center groundbreaking

June 28, 1990

Greater Columbus Convention Center dedication

March 13, 1993

Ohio Center merger with the Columbus Convention Center

December 31, 1996

Expansion groundbreaking

June 11, 1999

Expansion celebration

February 15, 2001

Battelle Grand Ballroom renovation begins

August 7, 2008

Battelle Grand Ballroom first event

January 18, 2010

Battelle Grand Gala

February 4, 2010

Groundbreaking for Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel

July 13, 2010

Acquisition of Nationwide Arena

March 2012

Opening of Hilton Columbus Downtown Hotel

October 15, 2012

Renovation and expansion of the Convention Center initiated

September 2015

Opening of new state-of-the-art, 800-space parking garage on Goodale Street

Early 2016

10 Facts about FCCFA

1

The Greater Columbus Convention Center sits on the site of Union Station, which served Columbus railroad passengers from 1850 to 1977.

2

The Convention Center boasts 33 loading docks and three drive-in ramps.

3

The Convention Center has operated successfully since 1993 without government subsidies.

4

The FCCFA’s 4 percent countywide bed tax has never increased since it was instated in 1988.

5

The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to make Nationwide Arena their NHL home until September 2039.

6

The FCCFA is a staunch supporter of the local arts, displaying local works throughout its properties.

7

2014 was the most successful year for the Hilton Columbus Downtown, as revenues increased by 20 percent over 2013.

8

The FCCFA’s new $18 million state-of-the-art garage on Goodale Street was built at no cost to taxpayers.

9

The Convention Center’s Battelle Grand Ballroom is the largest multipurpose ballroom in Ohio.

10

The Convention Center’s food partner, Levy Restaurants, partners with Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group to drive local and social business.

Explore Columbus

FCCFA Facilities
Hotels
Parking
Attractions
Neighborhoods
Parks
5 Minute Walk
10 Minute Walk
20 Minute Walk
CBus Line
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The Board of Directors

Sally W. Bloomfield
Board Chair
Partner, Bricker & Eckler
James E. Kunk
Board Vice Chairman
President, Central Ohio/Columbus Region Huntington Bancshares, Inc.
Barbara R. Nicholson
Board Secretary
Former Executive Director of the King Arts Complex
Rhett C. Ricart
Board Treasurer
President and CEO, Ricart Auto Group
Scott M. Dring
Executive Director, Dublin Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
Dennis K. Hartz
Operations Manager/Superintendent, Sauer Incorporated
Brian Ross
President & CEO, Experience Columbus
Richard L. Stage
Mayor, City of Grove City
Joseph Savarise
Executive Director, Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association
Dorsey Hager, Jr.
Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Columbus/Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council
Geri Lombard
General Manager, CTA, Hotel LeVeque

Our Team

Don L. Brown
Executive Director, CPA, CGMA, & CTA
Maria Mercurio
Finance Director
Scott Reed
Senior Project Manager, AIA
Randy Chrisman
Project Manager
Crista L. LeMaster
Office Manager, CTA
Jordan Edmonds, Esq.
Staff Attorney

Contact Us

If you would like to do business with us or learn more about our facilities, please contact:

Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority
614.827.2800
contactus@fccfa.org

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