New Orleans Newest Arena Adds to City’s Arsenal of Convention & Event Spaces
Since its official christening in November 2012, the newly-constructed Convocation Center and Annex at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) has been a very busy venue. The new center boasts more than 93,000 square feet of space with more than 4,100 seats that can be reconfigured for a variety of purposes. Because of its smaller size compared to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and other large spaces in New Orleans, the Convocation Center is providing the city with an alternative space for small to mid-size events, concerts, galas and more.
During Super Bowl XLVII, a number of groups took advantage of the space and state-of-the art capabilities the center has to offer. The night before Super Bowl, the Annual Gridiron Celebrity Hoops All-Star Basketball Game marked its 15th year at the Convocation Center. The star-studded event drew sports fans from across the country and more than three dozen pro-athletes and celebrities took center court to play.
"This mid-size athletic event proves our Convocation Center has the capacity to draw big crowds for important functions. We have end and center stage arrangements that allows for flexibility and our state-of-the-art scoreboard system is top of the line. We are pleased we had the opportunity to participate in the City's Super Bowl activities and hope to be an active participant in more events to come," said XULA President Dr. Norman Francis.
Other Super Bowl-related events included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce job fair Hiring Our Heroes - a chance for veteran job seekers, active duty military, Guard and Reserve members, active military and veteran spouses to apply for work at 60 participating, prospective employers. Also, Feed the Children, an organization that provides food to needy families, used the Convocation Center as home base for distribution.
"In New Orleans, there are a number of phenomenal spaces for conventions and events that are for thousands of attendees. There are also a number of spaces that can hold events for just a few hundred. Nestled between Uptown and Mid-City New Orleans, the Convocation Center is where event planners can meet in the middle," said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President of Public Relations Kelly Schulz. "It is a cost-effective venue to host mid-size events, close to all the City's attractions, and conveniently located right off I-10 overlooking Downtown New Orleans."
The first public event held in the Convocation Center was a Liberty Bank Christmas Concert featured the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra, which was held in December 2012. Upcoming events include XULA's inaugural commencement in May, giving the university the chance to bring its students back home for graduation. Until the construction of the Convocation Center, XULA graduation was held at the Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena.
The Convocation Center includes weight rooms, an elegant, monumental staircase at the entrance leading to a high-end VIP suite, and a dramatic second floor pre-function area that allows views to the outdoor plaza below while providing natural daylight into the facility. Supporting the Convocation Center is the Annex that houses classrooms, meeting spaces, offices as well as a "green" parking lot with pervious paving and solar panels. Manning Architects served as architects for both the Convocation Center and Annex, which are anticipated to be LEED Silver Buildings and incorporate community connectivity, water conservation, energy efficiency, recycled and regional materials, and improved indoor air quality. The Convocation Center is across Washington Avenue from the main campus on a site bounded by Short, Palm and Stroelitz streets. A pedestrian bridge will be constructed across Washington Avenue to give the XULA community better access to the new building.
Xavier University of Louisiana is a private, co-educational institution offering a comprehensive liberal arts program and professional programs, including 38 undergraduate majors, five master's degree programs and a doctor of pharmacy program. Xavier is the only historically Black, Catholic university in the United States and draws students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, the Virgin Islands and 7 foreign countries. For more information contact Xavier University of Louisiana, 1 Drexel Drive, New Orleans LA 70125, Phone: 504-520-7568, Fax 504-520-7933.