In the mid 1980’s the State of Illinois made a sizable investment in the construction of public assembly facilities in various communities throughout Illinois.
In the mid 1980’s the State of Illinois made a sizable investment in the construction of public assembly facilities in various communities throughout Illinois. The state legislators goals were to improve quality of life opportunities for its citizens and to spur economic development. Both of these objectives continue to be met by Gateway Center. As a result of this initiative, the Collinsville Metropolitan Exposition Auditorium and Office Building Authority was created by the Illinois Civic Center Act. The Authority owns and operates Gateway Center. The purpose of the act was to accomplish the aims of the State of Illinois to enhance the ability of its citizens to avail themselves of civic and cultural centers.
Gene Brombolich, mayor of Collinsville from 1975-1991, and at one time, board member of Gateway Center, initially proposed the construction of a convention center in the community of Collinsville. Brombolich was instrumental in securing the funding and support for construction of the 60,000 square foot multi-purpose facility.
Revenues that initially funded the construction, operation and promotion of Gateway Center were derived from the collection of a 5% hotel/motel tax, 1% food and beverage tax and all operating revenue collected from the use of Gateway Center.
The local development that has resulted from the construction of Gateway Center could hardly have been envisioned back in the mid 1980s when the idea to build a convention center first came about. Now Gateway Center anchors the Eastport Plaza area, which has evolved into a viable hospitality business center, that affords visitors and event participants the opportunity to meet, eat and sleep in one location.
In 1995, just shortly following Gateway Center’s initial years in operation, the decision was made by the Authority to look at the feasibility of expanding Gateway Center. The Authority felt that the future of Gateway Center depended on its ability to bring larger events to the Center and provide more space to allow current customers to expand their business. This would in turn bring more people to the area that will spend more dollars at local hotels, restaurants, service stations, shops and attractions. For the reasons of business retention, missed opportunities and competitive considerations, two subsequent expansions of Gateway Center have come to fruition adding more than 45,000 square feet to the venue’s original footprint.
The present day 105,000 gross square foot facility, has hosted as many as 624 events annually, and has attracted a variety of users from around the world. In 2011, this multipurpose facility has been responsible for bringing nearly 2.8 million visitors to Southwest Illinois over the duration of its history.