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Bettendorf events center to be cutting-edge facility
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Bettendorf events center to be cutting-edge facility

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The Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center is shaping up to be as cutting edge inside as it looks on the outside.

When visitors walk in the front doors of the contemporary glass, stone and steel latticework structure, they will be greeted by a massive video wall of multiple monitors promoting the center’s events.

In the ballroom, which will seat as many as 1,500 for shows, events taking place on the stage will be projected onto several screens. “There will not be a bad seat in the ballroom,” said Nancy Donovan, vice president and general manager of the Isle Casino Hotel.

Donovan and other Isle officials gave a media tour Thursday of the $20 million building near the Bettendorf riverfront. She highlighted the structure’s high-tech features, such as a state-of-the-art sound system and wireless Internet access. The center can broadcast events live on the city’s cable channel, and all of the controls for projection screens, microphones, lighting and more will be handled by a single remote.

“We really focused on making this a technologically advanced facility,” Donovan said.

The Waterfront will host a business center with several computer stations, a fax machine and photocopier for use by event attendees. A large, on-site kitchen will serve catering needs.

The city owns the building at 2021 State St., but it will be managed by the Isle. It’s expected to be completed in time for a Jan. 24 ribbon-cutting.

About 80 construction workers are on the site each day. Wall coverings are going up, and carpet and Italian porcelain stone are being laid. The space will be decorated in earth tones.

The center will be connected to the casino and hotel via a skywalk. The hallmark of the center is its pre-fabricated kasota stone, a form of limestone that holds up well in harsh weather. The stone treatment, which is prominent on the building’s exterior, continues inside the center as well.

“It gives the building a natural feeling,” Donovan said, gesturing to a wall of glass. “We wanted the natural light to come in and create a very open feel.”

The center includes 24,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a board room and smaller meeting rooms. The facility can be used as one large space or it can be divided into several smaller spaces to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. The parking lot can handle almost 300 cars.

The ballroom has a 30-by-18-foot stage, which also includes two green rooms where performers can prepare for shows. The opening act will be comedian Vicki Lawrence on Feb. 12.

“We plan to do several shows per year,” Donovan said.

About 80 workers per day are on site to get the building done on time. The center is expected to create 20 full-time positions.

Donovan envisions the center being the busy hub of Bettendorf’s downtown.

“It’s a contemporary facility that is reflective of how Bettendorf wants to renew the downtown,” she said. “I can imagine people driving by and seeing lots of people in here. It will be real prominent on State Street.”

David Heitz can be contacted at (563) 383-2202 or dheitz@qctimes.com.

BOOKINGS HAVE BEGUN

The Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center already has begun to book events.

Isle Casino Hotel Vice President and General Manager Nancy Donovan said the sales team began “ramping up” and already has scheduled class reunions and many wedding receptions.

The opening act on the ballroom stage will be comedian Vicki Lawrence on Feb. 12.

The cost of renting the center varies, depending on whether the client buys hotel rooms and food. It could even be complimentary for an organization that books several hotel nights, she said.

The ballroom will rent for about $1,500 a day for a seminar, she said. Smaller spaces also are available. The City of Bettendorf will have use of the center

10 days out of the year.

THE OTHER WATERFRONT

Even though it’s a couple of blocks from the river, State Street now is home to two Waterfronts.

The owner of the Waterfront Deli, which has been at 1020 State St. since 1981, said he’s flattered that the city and the Isle decided to copy his moniker for the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center.

“I paid a lot for the naming rights to the new convention center,” Ray Brandt joked. He said the city’s economic development director, Steve Van Dyke, sought his permission when the name came up for the event center.

“It has some pluses and minuses for us,” Brandt said. “The people who run the store are a little concerned about where the phone calls are going to go, and whether people are going to be asking us for directions. Maybe our calls will go there, and their calls will go to us.” Brandt said he expects there will be some pluses that come along with the deli being named the same as the new center, “but I’m not sure I know what those are.”

‘SO LONG’ TO THE PARROT

The Bettendorf casino complex, which has come to be known simply as “the Isle,” has officially taken on the abbreviated name.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. has changed the name from the Isle of Capri Casino & Hotel to the Isle Casino Hotel. The hotel also has a new, more contemporary logo that abandons the

tropical motif.

The 26-foot-tall parrot that tops the Isle’s original hotel eventually will come down, said Elissa Plastino, the Isle’s brand manager.

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