SAN ANTONIO -

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center has been drawing in business since it was built in 1968 and now, the San Antonio landmark is set to undergo a transformation that will potentially bring in even more convention business and put it at the top of the nation's premier event venues.

On Wednesday, city leaders commemorated the convention center's transformation and expansion.

"San Antonio continues to be a premiere destination conference convention city, not just in the Southern United States, but throughout the nation and internationally," said San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. "And, with this convention center expansion, we will become even stronger."

The expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center calls for more exhibit space, bringing it to more than 500,000 square feet and modernizing the center.

It will also house the largest ballroom in Texas, approximately 55,000 square feet, making it possible to host two significant-size conventions at the same time.

"We've already been able to book eight groups that represent over 112,000 room nights for the city," said Casandra Matej, Executive Director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. "That would not be for the convention expansion, we would not be able to accommodate them."

City leaders also anticipate the economic activity made possible by the expanded convention center will bring in $12 billion into the local economy every year.

"We estimate the new space and the events it brings will bring over 5,300 additional jobs, paying our local residents more than $176 million annually," said San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

Once the new section of the convention center is complete, the demolition of the existing building that was built in 1968 will get underway, making way for a new park.

The transformation is expected to be complete by 2016.

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