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Study Shows that Columbia Could Add New Conference Center

Memorial Union

  A study funded by the University of Missouri shows that Columbia could support a new hotel and conference center.

The study cost MU $35,000 and was conducted last fall by PKF Consulting.

The original goal of the study was to understand whether the university could support more on-campus meeting spaces. The study was soon expanded to cover the entire city of Columbia.

According to the results of the study, a new hotel and conference center could be built in Columbia.

The study also found that MU’s Memorial Union North is in need of a renovation. The building hasn’t been renovated since 1952.

MU Spokesperson Christian Basi said that plans have not been finalized for the project.

“Currently, there is about $11 million in deferred maintenance on the North side of Memorial Union,” Basi said. “And that is an area that we have looked at in the past and have been curious about to see if renovations would be possible. So, that’s something that we continue to watch and keep on eye on.”

The cost of the renovation would be more than $11 million. Plans for the renovation would mainly affect the second floor of the building.

Plans for the hotel and conference center are still in progress. The study noted that the new center would be placed closer to MU, as the only conference center currently in Columbia is the Holiday Inn Executive Center near the Columbia Mall.

Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Amy Schneider said that Columbia’s occupancy rate is about 60 percent, which would allow for more growth in the city. Because of this, she said she would support a new hotel and conference center.

“People that did this study have looked at lots of different facts--other cities besides Columbia,” Schneider said. “I just look at Columbia. If they say that history shows and their study shows we could absorb more hotel rooms, then I trust their decision.”

MU does not plan to be involved with planning or funding the new conference center. However, the university is planning how it will fund the renovations for Memorial Union North.

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