Duluth’s DECC Offers Nine Exciting Venues

The Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) hosted 420 events in 2023, with 600,000 visitors. Photo submitted.

Every part of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center(DECC) is there to be a perfect gathering space for people, whether for local attendees or for visitors from outside the area.

The DECC provides two beautiful ballrooms, thirty meeting rooms, and 120,000 square feet of exhibit space. The entire complex has been designed to suit every group and is barrier-free in compliance with the ADA.

According to Dan Hartman, DECC Executive Director, “We are working with nine different venues within our DECC organization. The venues include AMSOIL Arena, DECC Arena, Symphony Hall, Pioneer Hall, Paulucci Hall, the City Side Convention Center, the Harbor Side Convention Center, Bayfront Festival Park, and the William A. Irvin.”

Dan Hartman is the Executive Director of the DECC. Photo by Lynette's Portrait Design.

“We know when we have events at the DECC that we are bringing people to town who will also shop, eat, stay, and boost our local economy. We want to bring entertainment and programming in that covers a wide variety of interests and appeals to all age groups,” explained Hartman.

“We have been pleased that the state legislature continues to support us with our facilities needs so that we can work to keep all parts of our venue running smoothly and efficiently,” he added. “We also appreciate the community support in attending our events.”

Event Planning Starts at the DECC

Event planners are able to find a wide range of venues and facilities for any event. The DECC has 250,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit spaces, ballrooms, and a variety of meeting rooms. The DECC team was excited to host 420 events in 2023, with 600,000 visitors.

They offer large spaces in their AMSOIL Arena and DECC Arena and smaller spaces in their Pioneer and Paulucci Halls. Their online floor plans will help groups find the best the space for their events.

Amsoil Arena is the home of University of Minnesota Duluth hockey and serves as a venue for larger shows. Photo submitted.

In 2010, the DECC met the needs for a space for UMD hockey games and exciting music events by adding their AMSOIL Arena. AMSOIL was designed for all event-goers to feel part of the action, even while visiting the concession stands. It was named the best college hockey arena in the country by Stadium Journey,

Pioneer Hall is a great place to host an expo or to practice curling, Built in 1976, this hall boasts 48,000 square feet of exhibit space. Divided into two rooms during the winter months, North Pioneer Hall is home to the Duluth Curling Club who has hosted two World Championships, the U.S. Olympic Trials, and numerous national events. South Pioneer Hall is used year round for expo space, catered events, concerts, and other events.

Paulucci Hall was named for a Duluth legend, Jeno Paulucci, and is often used for expos and trade shows. Built along with the original Duluth Arena Auditorium in 1966, Paulucci Hall is host to exhibits and displays during a number of annual expos.

The DECC’s two skating sheets of ice and one curling facility can be used or transformed for different activities and events, including hockey, curling and ice skating. The rinks are also available for rent.

Some of the DECC’s most popular recent events have been the Robotics Tournaments, drawing teams from all over the Midwest, and the Duluth Winter Village which has quickly become a popular tradition with twenty-five thousand attendees per year.

With Father-Daughter Balls, Cirrus events, fundraisers for St.Luke’s, 148th ceremonies, U of M white coat ceremonies, many high school and college graduations, and as a destination for cruise ships, the DECC is always a community hub of activity.

Attracting Conventions to Duluth

“The beauty of Duluth and Lake Superior right out our doors, are a big draw for conventions from throughout the country,” said Hartman. “What makes a meeting in Duluth is Duluth itself. The Lake and shoreline sell themselves. If people come once, they come back. Duluth is definitely the place to be.”

In 2023, the DECC was busy with 51 conventions and 47,310 attendees. Conventions included such diverse organizations as the MN State Fire Chiefs Association, MN Association of Children's Mental Health, the American Waterworks Association, and a Climate Change Conference. The DECC was also host to over 10,000 people for other meetings in 2023.

Added in 1990, the DECC’s City Side Convention Center is perfect for social and business events, state, national, and international conventions, and everything in between. The Harbor Side Convention Center dazzles with its views of the Lake, the Bridge, and Canal Park, and is a favorite for wedding parties, conventions, and meetings.

The view from the Symphony Hall Mezzanine built in 1966 in mid-century modern style. Photo submitted.

From the Lake Superior Ballroom with its views of the Duluth’s skyline to the ten meeting rooms and 15,000 square foot Edmund Fitzgerald Exhibit Hall, the options for conventions are appealing. The beautifully appointed 26,000 square foot ballroom will seat 1,300 people for dinner or break into five separate meeting rooms.

Edmund Fitzgerald Hall offers 15,000 square feet of the best meeting space. Located on the first floor, it is convenient, near registration and meeting rooms and connects with Pioneer Hall and the DECC Arena for additional exhibit space.

Duluths Destination” Wedding Site

The DECC is the ideal wedding venue for receptions and even as a ceremony site. With an in-house catering department and spaces that can be designed for any type of wedding, the Harbor Side and City Side Convention Centers offer beautiful, scenic venues and rooms to decorate for any couple, their wedding party, and their guests.

The DECC has everything needed for dinners and receptions for any size event. Photo submitted.

The DECC has separate rooms available to rent for ceremonies, including two dressing rooms. They can also provide chairs, one wired microphone, and tables for the gifts and guest books.

Centrally located for in-town and out of town wedding guests, the DECC is within walking distance to many destination hotels and restaurants, and offers indoor skywalk access to Downtown.

The DECC’s expert wedding planners, site tours, and information packets are helpful ways to take the stress out of.,planning every style of wedding.

Delicious Catered Food for any Event

For groups who are interested in having food for their events, the DECC’s in-house catering staff is prepared to provide delicious food onsite. Whether it is for a wedding, a private party, a convention, or any other event, the staff will work to meet the needs of each group.

The DECC’s in-house catering department focuses on serving food created with ingredients that are as locally sourced as possible. Some of the local vendors they work with include: Duluth Coffee Company, Upper Lakes Foods, A Dozen Excuses Donuts & More, Johnson’s Bakery, Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth Coffee Company, Mike and Jen’s Cocoa, Northern Waters Smokehaus, and Fraboni’s, The DECC also uses locally brewed beers, ciders, and spirits.

Symphony Hall: Home for the Arts

With its specially designed hall for the best acoustics, the 2,221 seat Symphony Hall and its ALLETE stage are home to both the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Ballet. Symphony Hall is also host to an array of arts, including concerts, Broadway plays, operas, dance recitals, and high school graduations.

A capacity crowd enjoys a comedy show in Symphony Hall. Photo submitted.

Hartman noted, “This is the place to enjoy the best of area and visiting artists, performers, and entertainers. We were very successful with the touring production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and hope to bring in additional Broadway tours.”

Old Dominion performs at Amsoil Arena. Photo submitted.

Expos and Shows Galore

Each year, the DECC hosts expos for every interest including: Motorhead Madness, the Arrowhead Home and Builders Show, Duluth Junk Hunt, the Duluth Sport Show, Food Shows, the Minnesota Quilt Show, the Home and Builders’ Show, the Wedding Show, and many more.

Summer’s signature event each year, Grandma’s Marathon, is also a busy time for the DECC. They serve as the location for the race packet pickups, the Essential Health Fitness Expo, and Michelina’s All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner

Fun fact: The spaghetti feed takes 2,400 lbs of spaghetti (over a ton!), 5,000 lbs of sauce (elevated with basil and pesto), 2,500 lbs of meatballs, 25 lbs of basil, and 360 lbs of lettuce.

Opening the Doors to More

Bayfront Festival Park, with its beautiful grounds and stunning view of Lake Superior, is the place for music, entertainment, art, food, and fun. The colorful atmosphere with events such as Art in the Park, Taste of Duluth, the Fourth Fest, the Reggae and World Music Festival, the Blues Festival, and music events with groups like Trampled By Turtles and solo artists such as Willie Nelson make the Bayfront party atmosphere come alive every year.

Another popular Bayfront attraction, run by the DECC, is the lake freighter, the William A. Irvin, open for tours beginning in May. Activities onboard for kids include a popular “seek and find” adventure. “My kids love the Irvin tour. It is family friendly and very tactile,” said Hartman.

The William A Irvin ship museum is open for tours May-October. Photo by northernimages.com

Attention to Detail From a Great Team

According to the DECC website, “At the DECC, attention is paid to every detail, and every detail is tailored to fit your plans. From the magnificent ballrooms and meeting rooms to the expansive exhibit halls, you’ll enjoy an architect’s masterpiece and experience a meeting planner’s dream. Here lies the perfect space for your next meeting, convention or social event.

Hartman added, “It is very gratifying to watch a well-executed event be successful. That happens because of our hard-working team and crew.”

Major material for this article is provided by the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center website.

For more information on the DECC’s programming and services, visit decc.org or their Facebook page.

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