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Orange County Digest

Local News in Brief : Anaheim : Center Stages Showy Anniversary Event

December 01, 1987

The Anahiem Convention center celebrated its 20th anniversary Monday night with a spectacular laser show that attracted hundreds of spectators who watched as the center's arena was transformed into a huge, smoke-trailing spaceship.

City officials closed off a section of busy Katella Avenue between Harbor Boulevard and West Street for several hours to accommodate viewing of the elaborate display.

The arena's illusory blastoff, accomplished through the use of mirrors, lights, smoke machines and the taped roar of rocket engines, was meant to signify passage into both its 21st year and the 21st Century, a convention center spokesman said.

In an effort to meet the growing competition for convention business nationally, the city recently approved a $51 million expansion project that will include a new exhibit hall, a five-story parking garage and modernization of the arena's interior meeting rooms.

At present, the center ranks among the top 10 convention centers nationally in size, trailing centers in such cities as Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and New York.

The center opened in July, 1967, and after two previous expansions, now contains about 300,000 square feet of exhibit space in three major exhibit halls. Convention officials estimate the center will attract more than 925,000 delegates to shows by the end of this year.

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