The Owensboro Convention Center and Sports Center were both on track in 2020 for their most successful years since the convention center opened in 2014.
And then the coronavirus pandemic hit Owensboro, and the two sites had to shut down on March 8.
And it took months for either of them to return to something close to normal.
At the end of May 2021, Laura Alexander, Managing Director of both facilities, said: “We are passing the mark. Summer is shaping up to be very good.
In July, conventions finally returned to the convention center after 15 long months of restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kentucky Water & Wastewater Operators Association was the first to return.
“We expect more convention attendance in 2022,” Alexander said. “Fourteen agreements representing more than 8,600 hotel nights have already been signed until 2022, and we still have more in the pipeline.
“We only had five conventions in 2021.”
Alexander said the biggest conventions slated for 2022 are the Kentucky Bar Association in June and the Kentucky League of Cities in September.
These, she said, are “the two biggest conventions we have ever hosted at the convention center.”
The Kentucky United Methodist Annual Convention in June is also expected to draw a lot of people to town.
Doug Sheldon, who owns a 50,000 square foot haunted attraction in Grand Rapids, Mich., Will present his Fear Expo Live at the convention center on January 21 and 23.
He said earlier that he expects it to attract 4,000 people from across the country who operate haunted attractions.
It would be the largest convention and trade show the city has ever seen.
“The most impressive number to look at in 2022 is the number of committed hotel nights at 13,000,” Alexander said. “We have never had so many pre-booked overnight stays in a single year and we plan to add even more.
“We have six sporting events that have confirmed in the first half of 2022. Many of them were due to take place in 2021, but had to be postponed due to COVID.”
Others are new, Alexander said.
“With the addition of a temporary sports floor that can be laid on top of our Expo floor, we were able to secure the futsal tournament in December, as well as an additional volleyball tournament coming up in May,” she declared. “Our sales team is working with regional and local tournament organizers to host additional sporting events that we would not be able to host otherwise.
“The concerts return in 2022 with greater force. Many artists were unable to come out and tour in 2021, which is a significant source of their income. We just announced Tracy Lawrence and Clay Walker at the Sportscenter for March 19, 2022, and hope to announce more soon.