Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority approves HQ hotel

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (the Authority in New Orleans, USA, has approved two resolutions critical to moving forward with the development of a 1,000-room headquarters hotel its Convention Centre.

In addition to accepting a formal letter of intent (LOI) with Omni Hotels & Resorts (Omni) to own and operate the headquarters hotel, the Authority has approved a purchase and sale agreement for property at Convention Center Boulevard and Andrew Higgins Boulevard. The site, currently operated as the Sugar Mill event venue, is immediately across the street from the Convention Center and is the preferred site for the new headquarters hotel.

“In case anyone needed another reason to travel to New Orleans, this is it. I am ecstatic that the Authority has taken the next step to develop a new hotel for the New Orleans Convention Center. This hotel will bring more people and events to our State, and it gives us greater opportunity to showcase all that New Orleans has to offer,” said Governor Jeff Landry.

The hotel will be strategically positioned to help attract events that have previously passed on New Orleans because the city lacks a modern, upscale headquarters hotel adjacent to the Convention Center.

“This is the right time, at the right place and with the right partner,” said Russell Allen, Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority president, describing the decision to go ahead with the hotel project.

Consideration of a headquarters hotel began several years ago and has been closely evaluated by the Authority for nearly a decade.

“The Authority’s actions take us one step closer to attracting the trade shows, conventions and events that only an adjacent headquarters hotel can,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center president and CEO. “It will introduce a new market and mean more events, bring more jobs, generate new demand for rooms for other hotels in the market and more spending at local restaurants and other businesses. Building a headquarters hotel will be transformative for New Orleans tourism and realise a vision many years in the making.”

Omni has been the Authority’s selected partner since 2018 and a leading expert in convention centre headquarters hotels, having seven similar properties it has developed in other cities, all exceeding expectations. Omni is investing $500m to finance the project.

“We are excited to begin negotiations with the Authority, as we work together to develop the new Convention Center headquarter hotel in New Orleans… City of New Orleans is a premier destination and an American treasure, so we are thrilled at the prospect of creating a hotel that embodies its character and culture,” said Kurt Alexander, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts.

The project is expected to support 1,100 permanent jobs, generate $282m in annual impact on the local economy and add a combined $24m in annual tax revenue for the city and the state.

Walter J. Leger III, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, the official destination sales and marketing organisation for the New Orleans tourism industry added: “This action will make New Orleans’ an even more competitive destination for meetings and conventions.  New Orleans is Built to Host, but it’s critical that we develop new product offerings to remain competitive, especially when cities such as Las Vegas, Dallas, Nashville, Austin Orlando and others are making significant investments in new hotels, convention centres and major tourist attractions.”

Negotiations will continue and conclude with final agreements being ready for the Authority to review and consider at the end of 2024. Design and construction will begin in 2025, with an expected opening in 2028-2029.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) is the sixth largest convention centre in the United States and provides the largest single exhibition space in the country.


Group photo: Walt Leger, III, New Orleans & Company president and CEO; Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center president and CEO; Michael G. Smith, executive vice-president, Real Estate & Development TRT Holdings, Inc.; Russell Allen, Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority president; Brian Zelman, vice-president, Acquisitions & Development, Omni Hotels & Resorts