The Transformation of the Mayo Civic Center

Mayo Civic Center Transformation


The vision to transform the Mayo Civic Center into the upper Midwest’s premier convention center became a reality on April 1, 2017, with the highly-anticipated completion of an $84 million expansion project that nearly doubled the facility’s capacity for hosting events.

“We are thrilled about our beautiful new convention center addition, which equips us to host a broader range of conventions, meetings, and events,” said Donna Drews. “It was a real milestone adding several new high-quality, versatile venues to our center, and we’re already hearing positive feedback from customers and users. We encourage local businesses and community organizations to consider hosting their events here, and to suggest the Mayo Civic Center as a meeting location for their regional or national groups as well.”

Building a Better Mayo Civic Center

Initially constructed in 1939 as a gift from Doctors Will and Charlie Mayo to the city of Rochester, the Mayo Civic Center has stayed true to its legacy as Rochester’s first civic auditorium while growing and changing along with the community.

The idea of a major convention center expansion was first broached a decade ago, and design plans were drawn up a few years later. In 2014, the state approved $35 million in funding for the project and the city, in partnership with the local hospitality industry, invested an additional $49 million which includes support generated from a portion of lodging tax collection. Construction officially began on March 30, 2015.

The most striking new addition to the center is a 40,000 square-foot ballroom with seating capacity of more than 4,000 classroom-style or 2,000 banquet-style. The new ballroom, which is the biggest in the state of Minnesota, features an upscale ambiance.

Other highlights of the expansion include 16 new meetings rooms (bringing the meeting rooms total to 23), a 7,000 square-foot banquet production kitchen, and the outdoor Riverfront Plaza. In addition, a floor-to-ceiling wave wall wraps around the facility, providing guests with breathtaking views of the Zumbro River and downtown Rochester.

“The interior space is going to blow people away,” said Tom Leimer, who oversaw the expansion as a project executive for Knutson Construction. “A lot of thought and hard work went into making this an attractive facility. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to construct this extraordinary convention center.” Approximately 500 construction workers were involved in the project, Leimer said. “Our biggest accomplishment for this project was that all the trades worked safely. We worked over 625 days without any lost-time injuries.”

Impacting the Community

Current users of the Mayo Civic Center are celebrating the completion of the expanded convention venues. Jacob Malwitz, an event producer at Mayo Clinic who has planned and executed events at Mayo Civic Center for 16 years, said the expansion is a “game changer” for the dozens of events that Mayo Clinic hosts locally each year.

“The new convention center will provide a wide variety of contemporary venues ranging from bright, inviting areas for networking before an event, to an upscale ballroom that is divisible into two or three smaller ballrooms, to a plethora of breakout rooms that will enhance conference flow and thus provide for a better attendee experience,” Malwitz said. “Having such a wide variety of event venues physically connected via skyway to the downtown hotels as well as Mayo Clinic will ensure convenience for both those attending and planning events at Mayo Civic Center.”

“Local businesses and hospitality industry workers are excited about the opportunities created by the expanded convention center,” said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s great for the local economy that the Mayo Civic Center will be hosting more and bigger events,” Jones said. “The center’s events and conventions are catalysts for attendees to spend dollars in the community—staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, and shopping in local stores,” Jones said. The Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau partners with Mayo Civic Center to market, sell, and book events in the center. So far, the Bureau’s sales team is exceeding its goals related to filling the new venues.

According to Drews, the Mayo Civic Center’s 262 events in 2016 attracted approximately 290,000 attendees. This generated an estimated economic impact of $31 million in the community. Drews expects the expanded center to attract even more events and visitors. “We are overjoyed that the transformation is complete,” Drews said. “Our long-awaited new venues are up and running, and we’re excited for the community to see it and use it. It was worth the wait!”


The newly-expanded, stunningly-transformed Mayo Civic Center offers exceptional venues for YOUR next big event. From board meetings and conferences to trade shows and galas, our new convention center is the region’s premier event site. Now equipped to host more and bigger events than ever, we welcome YOUR suggestions on groups that you could refer to the Mayo Civic Center.

Refer an event today by contacting Nick Landry, vice president of sales, or 507-424-0818.