144 145 theyhave come to us twice,because theyhave such a largemembership in the northeast that theywanted to do something here.” Alocal organization called Riverfront Recaptured hosts a varietyof teambuilding activities along the riverfront.These are corporate events designed for large groups that want to participate together,out- doors.There are also two casinos within 45minutes of the Convention Center-entertainment for groups that want accessibility,but don’t want to be housed on the casino premises. Costelli adds,“We also have a tremendous varietyof food and entertainment here in the capital city,and a diverse communityof venues.We have theXLCenter (formerlyHartford CivicCenter) with an indoor arena. We have Rentschler Field,where the UCONNHuskies play football.Also,Dunkin’Donuts Park just opened a couple of blocks away,home to theHartfordYard Goats.For large organizations that can’t afford Boston or NewYork,if we don’t have the space here at the Convention Center,we have a great selection of facil- ities nearbywhere theycan do a large speaking pro- gram,or outdoor activity,or add to a trade show.” When the Center first opened,IT infrastructurewas managed bya third party,but that model didn’t work out due to lackof accessibilityand the need to have people onsite quickly.Today,there is a full-time ITper- son on staff,and two people on call for support.When a sizeable group needs 24-hour coverage,it is available in-house,rather than going to an outside agency.Since 2005,the Center has spent $250,000 revamping IT andAVproduction systems; two years ago,the phone systemwas replaced at a cost of $80,000.Costelli says, andmanages the adjoining 400-roomMarriot full-ser- vice hotel,andwe have an off-shoot division called WaterfordVenue Services that employs us and is con- tracted tomanage the Connecticut Convention Center on behalf of the Capital RegionDevelopmentAuthority (CRDA).That’s a quasi-public agency that owns the propertyand oversees its operation.” At 540,000-square-feet,the Connecticut Convention Center is the largest convention facilitybetweenNew Yorkand Boston.The venue is visually stunning and generous in sizewith 140,000 square feet of exhibi- tion space,a 40,000-square-foot ballroom,and 25,000 square feet of flexiblemeeting space.Award-winning event planning and in-house catering teams combine tomake the guest experiencememorable and positive. Every facet of hosting an event has been taken into consideration–fromstate-of-the-art audio-visual,to flexible space allotment and abundant pre-function areas,to ample on-site,sheltered parking. The Convention Center has 84 full-time employees and 220 on call,employed on an occasional basis, depending on the size of an event.Rather than servic- ing a specificnichemarket,the venue covers a broad range fromconventions and trade shows,to sporting events and public shows,hosting around 250 events in an average year.Associations are its strongest market. When courting customers,the Center focuses on providing a prime location between Boston andNew York,but at much less cost.Costelli notes,“When you’re looking at northeast associations,you have a tremen- dous amount of population to drawfrom.For example: TheAircraft Owners and PilotsAssociation (AOPA) traditionallygoes out to PalmSprings,California.And THE CONNECTICUT CONVENTION CENTER