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The Ocean Center was created in 1985 to enhance tourism and serve area residents. Funded by a 3 percent resort tax on accommodations, the Ocean Center has hosted thousands of concerts, performances, trade shows, conventions and sporting events. It has drawn millions of visitors. It is a great community asset and a catalyst for the local economy that is not supported by local property taxes.

Residents and visitors celebrated the opening of the Ocean Center in 1985 with a pre-opening concert by Amy Grant and a grand opening concert by John Denver.  The concerts drew more than 10,000 people. Since then, the guest book of performers has been extensive. Among them have been The Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley, Jimmy Buffet, Usher, Leon Russell , Elton John, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Cher, Britney Spears, Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, Willie Nelson, Alabama, The Beach Boys, Hootie & the Blowfish, Barbara Mandrell, Tanya Tucker, AC/DC, The Harlem Globetrotters, Lipizzaner Stallions, Larry the Cable Guy and many others.

Events have included Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, Miss Teen USA Pageant and WWE Live. The Sesame Street characters have been frequent performers at the Ocean Center. The complex also has hosted the Nice ‘n Easy U.S Figure Skating Classic featuring Tara Lipinsky, Michelle Kwan, Dorothy Hamill, Nicole Bobek, Rosalynn Summers, Kyoko Ina, Jason Dungjen, Todd Eldridge, Rudy Galindo, Michael Weiss, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow. The event was broadcast on ABC.

Meetings and conventions

The Ocean Center is a favorite among meeting planners, especially since its ambitious expansion in 2009. More than 100 events are scheduled this year, with events ranging from association meetings, competitive arts to sporting events. Among them have been Showbiz Talent, Fire Rescue East, National Cheerleading Association and many more. Future events include the Rejuvenate 2013 Marketplace and the 2017 Imperial Session of Shriner’s International.

Today's Ocean Center

The Ocean Center is a versatile, state-of-the-art, multipurpose convention center and entertainment complex. Following an $82-million expansion, the Ocean Center has more than 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit and meeting space and 32 breakout rooms. In addition to its extraordinary design and features, the Ocean Center offers expansive outdoor space and soon will be enhanced by a dynamic entertainment zone welcoming Ocean Center patrons. The area’s great weather and magnificent beaches make the welcome even warmer.

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