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New ballroom boosting Charlotte’s convention appeal (access required)

By Hannah Mitchell CHARLOTTE — A new ballroom already appears to be reaping economic dividends for Charlotte’s convention and trade show business, one of the many sectors that have slowed during the recession. The 40,000-square-foot ballroom, part of the Charlotte Convention Center, is about the size of two Bank of America skyscraper floors side by side. It sits atop a five-level parking deck serving the new downtown NASCAR Hall of Fame and the NASCAR office tower. The ballroom is scheduled to open in mid-April, a month before the hall of fame’s opening. The first major convention to use the ballroom will be in May, when 50,000-plus National Rifle Association members come to town. Convention and trade-show bookings at the convention center have slowed during the recession, dropping from 30 in 2008 to a projected 23 for this year, said Leslie Kluttz, convention booking manager for the center.

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