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A brand new food court, with selections including a wide variety of fast food options and great coffee, was just opening the day that members of the USITT Conference Committee visited the Charlotte Convention Center.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

Charlotte Shines for Conference Committee Visit

Helen P. Willard
Stage Expo Sales Manager

The conference programming meeting moved to June this year since the typical May meeting dates coincided with a NASCAR race and the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. The first weekend in June found us visiting Charlotte amidst HeroesCon, an annual convention for the comic book world.

The weekend began with a look at the meeting space, exhibit halls, and the ballroom in the Charlotte Convention Center. Committee members found a lot to like at the Convention Center, which is a handsome, modern building with plenty of space and natural light. Its most interesting feature may be that the light rail runs through the building separating the east and west wing meeting rooms, although there’s just a faint whoosh as the trains go through.

Members of the Conference Committee were joined by the Commissioners Steering Committee to schedule program sessions for next year’s conference. During the day-long meeting each proposed conference session is reviewed and scheduled for a particular day and time in a specific room. This year’s meeting was held at the Westin Charlotte, USITT’s headquarters hotel during the 2011 Conference.

Within Center City, it’s an easy walk to the conference hotels as well as to many restaurants, shops, and clubs. Just a few blocks north of the Convention Center is the EpiCentre, an uptown hub for entertainment and nightlife, a smaller version of Fourth Street Live in Louisville or the Power & Light District in Kansas City. There’s something for everyone’s taste at the EpiCentre with Blackfinn American Saloon, Bruegger’s Bagels, Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Fleming’s Steakhouse, Jason’s Deli, Libretto’s Pizzeria, Mez, Mortimer’s Café & Pub, and Wild Wing Café. Entertainment includes the Pavilion, the EpiCentre Theaters, and StrikeCity bowling lanes plus clubs like Howl at the Moon, Suite, and Whiskey River.

Other uptown dining destinations include Aria, Blue, Capital Grille, Luce, Mert’s Heart & Soul, Mimosa Grill, Monticello, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Savannah Red, and Zink. Having the light rail so close makes it easy to jump on and find more dining options. Head south to check out Mac’s Speed Shop for bikes and BBQ, the Liberty Pub, Price’s Chicken Coop, or Tyber Creek Grill. A bit further afield, Southpark offers a myriad of dining destinations including Del Frisco’s, the Palm, Rooster’s Kitchen, Toscana, Upstream, and Zebra.

Committee members will go back to Charlotte in early December to finalize conference plans and check out some more restaurants. Plan now to be in Charlotte March 9 to 12 for the 51st Annual USITT Conference & Stage Expo to sample the Queen City for yourself. For information about exhibiting at Stage Expo 2011, contact Helen Willard at

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