Long Island Secures Funding for New Convention Center

Rendering of a new convention center

Skift Take

The Hamptons, wine country, and sprawling beaches are Long Island highlights. There has never been a purpose-built convention center, but that is about to change.

The proposed Midway Crossing development near Long Island MacArthur Airport features a convention center at its core. Once operational, projections point to an injection of more than $4 billion into the local economy annually. Backers highlight how the investment will help sustain high-paying jobs and inspire future generations to work and live locally.

“Midway Crossing is slated to be the most consequential development our region has seen in decades with a proposed 100,000-square-foot convention center, a 300-room connecting hotel and commercial space dedicated to luring life sciences that will further solidify Long Island as a leader in health, science, and innovation,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

The proposed development uses 179 acres of public land in the center of Long Island near MacArthur Airport and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), directly connected to Penn Station and Grand Central Station in New York City.

Putting Long Island on the Convention Map

“A convention center at the heart of our world-class destination is key to unlocking Long Island’s access to the multi-billion-dollar meetings industry,” said Kristen Reynolds, CDME, Discover Long Island president and CEO.

“Big city convenience with small town charm,” is a key selling point for Discover Long Island, the region’s destination marketing organization. The new development will bolster its capacity to host business events. It currently offers 1.5 million square feet of meeting space and over 18,000 guest rooms.

“Long Island is the global headquarters for industry-leading companies, including Canon USA, Henry Schein, Estee Lauder, 1-800-Flowers, and many more. This hub of innovation leads the nation in biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, and alternative energy solutions, and a convention center elevates our economic achievements, bolsters leisure travel opportunities, and creates the demand and opportunity for increased airlift from Long Island MacArthur Airport,” said Reynolds.

Funding Secured

New York’s Suffolk County increased its hotel tax from 3 to 5.5 percent, the first increase in almost 15 years. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation in late 2022. It was approved at the local level in April, and officially went into effect on June 1.

Visitors spend $6.3 billion every year experiencing the region’s iconic attractions, including The Hamptons, wine country, and beaches.

Not only will these additional funds be used for the new convention center, but Discover Long Island will have its funding raised from $2 million to $6 million annually for tourism promotion.

Photo credit: JLL / Crawford Architects