History

The history of the Seattle Convention Center reflects that of the region: Continually expanding, growing, and innovating.

In the early 1970s, a group of community leaders from the public and private sectors conceived the notion of building a convention center in Seattle to foster new economic development and increase hotel occupancy rates. In 1982, by action of the state legislature, a public non-profit corporation was established to acquire land and to design, construct, promote and operate the original convention center. A site adjacent to and above Interstate 5 was selected, and initial construction began in the fall of 1985, continuing for nearly three years. The first scheduled event took place on June 18, 1988.

By the early 1990s, increasing demand for exhibition space and Seattle as a destination made it clear that the Center would need to grow. Plans were made to effectively double the available event space by building an adjoining and connected facility to the north across Pike Street.

On July 9, 2001, little more than two years after beginning construction, a ribbon was cut to officially open the expanded convention center. That project spurred other building and revitalization projects, creating an economic base for sustained growth in the downtown core. Hotels, restaurants, shops, office towers, and high-rise condominiums and apartments now occupy street frontage that was previously underutilized or vacant.

The Center expanded again in July 2010 with the opening of The Conference Center (TCC). Located at the northeast corner of 8th Avenue and Pike Street, this LEED-certified space was originally designated to be the new home of the Museum of History and Industry following the 2001 expansion. As the needs of the museum changed, the Center acquired the property and began a complete conversion of the four-level building. TCC’s 71,000 square feet provided the space necessary to accommodate groups whose requirements exceeded those of the original building. Combined, TCC and the original building offer 414,722 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

In 2011, the Washington State Convention Center shifted from operating as a nonprofit managed by the state to a public facilities district. Authorized by the state legislature in April of 2010 and subsequently created by King County, the Washington State Convention Center Public Facilities District (PFD) is responsible for the Center’s management, operations, capital improvements and financial success.

On April 18, 2022, the Washington State Convention Center, still under the management of the PFD, changed its operating name to Seattle Convention Center (SCC), tying the facility to its hometown and helping guests assimilate into the destination city. The SCC campus is now composed of Arch at 705 Pike, the original building; Arch at 800 Pike, formerly known as The Conference Center (TCC); Summit, opening one block north on Pine Street in January 2023; and three parking garages.