George R. Brown Convention CenterThe George R. Brown Convention Center Houston gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center
The George R. Brown Convention Center opened on September 26, 1987 on the east side of downtown Houston. The center was named for the prominent Houstonian George R. Brown, an entrepreneur, civic leader and philanthropist. Brown’s Texas Eastern Corporation donated six of the 11 blocks required to build the convention center. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Houston, Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department. The facility was completed with a price tag of $104.9 million, requiring 30 months and more than 1,200 workers. The sleek 100 foot (30 m) high red-white-and-blue building replaced the obsolete Albert Thomas Convention Center, which was later redeveloped into the Bayou Place entertainment complex in the downtown Houston Theater District.
The first convention held in the George R. Brown Convention Center began on October 11, 1987 for the American Society of Travel Agents. Renovations began on July 28, 2001 to expand the convention center and build an adjacent 1,200 room convention headquarters hotel at a cost of $165 million and requiring 27 months of construction. The adjacent hotel is the Hilton Americas-Houston and is connected to the convention center via several skywalks. The project expanded the center from 1,150,000 square feet to 1,800,000 square feet (107,000 to 167,000 m²). Three exhibit halls were added to increase exhibition space from 451,500 square feet to 853,500 square feet (42,000 to 79,000 m²) and sixty-two meeting rooms were added for a total of 105. Completion of the project concluded in September 2003 a few months before Super Bowl XXXVIII.
At the same time, METRORail was completed on schedule, and what is deemed a revived Downtown Houston has opened doors to future conventions (in Summer 2004, the Texas Democratic Convention was held within the GRB). With the new improvements, the George R. Brown Convention Center is now one of the 10 largest in the nation.