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February 12, 2014

Baltics: Vilnius' New Conference Center to Be Completed by 2019

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The new conference center in Vilnius, Lithuania, is scheduled to be completed by 2019, and Mayor Arturas Zuokas is confident that the meetings industry is a major future industry for Lithuania.

During Arturas Zuokas' time as mayor, beginning in 2000, Vlinius developed at a rapid pace despite a stalling economy. Today the bankrupt Bankas Snoras, which was previously Lithuania's fifth largest bank, still owns the Vilnius Palace sports complex, which will be attached to the convention center.

The stadium, which was primarily built for volleyball and basketball, will be rebuilt and extended to become the modern Lithuanian central meeting point. The arena first opened in 1971 and can accommodate 4,400 people. The convention facility will be planned for 5,000 delegates and will be built to accommodate several parallel sessions.

The fight for Lithuanian independence was also held in this building on October 1988. Later in the 1990s the building was used as a shopping mall where space was leased to small business owners for exhibitions and smaller fairs.

The Palace is an example of Soviet constructivism and "brutal architecture," and is notable for its ship-like exterior. The Palace, once one of the architectural icons of the Soviet Vilnius, was until the 1990s a venue for sporting events, especially local and international basketball games as well as concerts and shows.

Vilnius has nearly 550,000 inhabitants. The city also has the Siemens Arena, a ten year old sports and concert arena which can hold up to 11,000 people at sporting events and 12,000 seated at concerts.

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