PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today was the first day on the job for the new head of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and he’s looking ahead to a big 2011 — including the opening in two months of the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s long-planned expansion.

Come March, the convention center at 11th and Market Streets will be 62 percent larger, thanks to an expanded facility that stretches west to Broad Street.

Jack Ferguson has now succeeded Tom Muldoon as head of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  He says the first test of the expansion comes at the beginning of March, when the Flower Show is held at the same time as a convention of five thousand student personnel administrators.  Hosting them simultaneously, Ferguson says, could not have been done before.

“And that’s the beauty of the design of the building,” he told KYW Newsradio. “It’s not just (having) about one big show in — it’s about multiple shows (simultaneously), or shows moving in while another one is happening, or moving out while another one is happening.”

Immediately after the flower show comes a convention of operating room nurses — 15,000 in all — occupying the entire newly expanded center.

And Ferguson says that later in the year the facility will host three other major conventions — Lightfair International, Tru Value Hardware, and the National Safety Council — that he says would have been too large to host without the center’s expansion.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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