The buzz about Knoxville

The buzz about Knoxville

📅May 6th, 2015, 13:54

We had an incredibly busy month and year at the Knoxville Convention Center with diverse events and groups visiting our city, and next year already is filling up.

In April, we had 17 events, many with multiple days, and more than 15,000 guests visited our facility. In May, we’re preparing for 17,000 visitors during Destination Imagination. It doesn’t look like we’ll be slowing down anytime soon. We’re so busy, in fact, that the challenge has become creatively finding space for all of the groups that want to visit Knoxville!

Our amazing sales team has more than 170 upcoming events already contracted, and 33 additional contracts pending – with more inquiries arriving every day. These events include international, national and regional conferences.

Knoxville clearly has momentum and buzz. So that begs the questions: Why Knoxville and why now? Our sales team has the answers.

Outdoor adventure

Paddling Hight Quality-1

Paddling on the Tennessee River between Knoxville’s downtown and urban wilderness.

Knoxville is becoming known throughout the country for being a destination location for outdoor enthusiasts. Our city is so much more than just a stop on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains. Our urban wilderness has biking and hiking options right across the river from a thriving, revitalized downtown area. Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to our city for its unique blend of outdoor adventure and downtown sophistication.

Sustainability also is a big selling point for our outdoor industry clients. The Knoxville Convention Center was Tennessee’s first LEED-certified convention center and led the way for green building and operation practices. Additionally, the City of Knoxville has taken a lead role in sustainability by making Knoxville one of the nation’s first “solar cities.” Our roof is the site of the city’s largest solar panel display.

We have enjoyed tremendous success in attracting outdoor conventions and meetings. Since 2013, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance has held its biannual tradeshow at our facility with vendors that include such industry leaders as Columbia, Marmot, Patagonia and Mountain Hardwear. The group is expanding its show in 2015 to accommodate even more attendees and has booked the event in Knoxville through 2016. We are thrilled to have them here.

Additionally, the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) held a conference in Knoxville in 2014 and is returning in 2015. These journalists, writers and communicators reach millions of outdoor enthusiasts on a daily basis. The event features excursions for attendees to discover all the secrets about Knoxville’s great outdoor activities.

Uniquely local downtown

Market Square Crowd2 (600x800)

Market Square.

Our walkable downtown area is full of local shops, restaurants and entertainment options that are unique to the Knoxville area. From seeing a show at the Tennessee Theatre or the Bijou Theatre to sipping a drink at the Peter Kern Library or Boyd’s Jig & Reel, guests at the Convention Center always can find an easily accessible local experience.

Our tourism partner, Visit Knoxville, helps us coordinate familiarization tours, where we take prospective meeting planners through our facility and city. Once we get them to Knoxville, they realize we have something special to showcase, from unique craft breweries and moonshine tastings to local bands playing on Market Square.

Downtown has received national accolades, including Gay Street being named one of “America’s Best Streets, and Knoxville also have been ranked in a 2015 national list as one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live.”

High-quality options and affordable

With the upturn in the economy, meeting planners are returning to large annual conferences and booking events further in advance. We have several meetings booked into the 2020s. Even with the economic forecast looking much brighter, planners still keep an eye on budgets. Knoxville is a perfect option thanks to our hotel partners and vendors that work closely with our clients to ensure they get the best value for guests. With a new hotel directly attached to our facility coming in 2016, we’ll be even better positioned to meet planners’ needs.

We also are challenging the perception that traveling to Knoxville might be an issue. We have hosted several national and international meetings and conventions in Knoxville finding affordable airfare deals. By car, Knoxville is centrally located on the East Coast with more than 15 major cities within less than a day’s drive, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Charleston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Richmond, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

In 2014, Forbes declared Knoxville one of “America’s Most Affordable Cities.”

Great local partners

Elementary school students participate in the Twist-O-Rama challenge.

The University of Tennessee helps attract great groups like Destination Imagination to Knoxville.

The Knoxville Convention Center benefits greatly from our local partners and organizations. The nearby University of Tennessee brings several large-scale national events to our facility every year, including Destination Imagination Global Finals and the CDF Freedom School. Additionally, university faculty members are on boards of professional associations that bring their conferences to Knoxville.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory also is a vital resource in attracting scientific conventions and conferences to Knoxville. The Carbon Fiber 2015 conference occurring later this year is a great example of this partnership. In the past, we have held scientific conferences on everything from quark matter and accelerators, to anthropology, energy technology and environmental business. Both ORNL and UT are valuable partners in attracting business to our region.

We have several scientific conferences already on the books, including the International Society of Arboriculture in 2019; the International Society of Arboriculture Southern Chapter in 2016; and Carbon Fiber 2015 in December.


Ozone Invitational brings approximately 17,000 visitors to the Convention Center each year.

Sporting groups are a booming industry for us. Local partners such as Steve Butcher of Premier Athletics have allowed us to bring in several recurring regional and national sporting events. We’ve hosted gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, cornhole, bowling, horseshoe pitching, fencing and more. One regional sporting event has booked every year at the Convention Center through 2022!


Regal General Manager’s conference.

Additionally, local companies such as Regal Entertainment Group and Pilot Flying J, hold regional and national meetings and conventions at our facility.

The Knoxville Convention Center is proud of our city and the buzz that it is creating in the event planning industry. We are joining with our partners and neighbors to keep the momentum going and encourage planners to think about Knoxville for their next meeting or convention.

As we said before, come see for yourself!