The Baltimore Convention Center is about to get a multimillion-dollar face-lift.

On Wednesday, the city’s spending board unanimously approved $25.7 million in state funds to tackle a number of projects at the facility. Lawmakers earmarked the money in a 2023 spending bill after the city-owned convention center flagged several pressing needs. They included sprucing up the bathrooms, modernizing the phone system, upgrading its lighting and renovating the “failing” bridges that span Charles Street.

The convention center — which opened in 1979 and expanded in 1996 — also needs “immediate capital infrastructure improvements,” according to the letter Executive Director Mac Campbell sent lawmakers last year.

Those improvements include moving several key functions from the east side of the convention center into the west, according to the letter, as part of a longer-term plan to potentially demolish and rebuild the east side of the convention center.

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Campbell wrote that there are still “large capital needs” for the convention center that will need additional funding.

Meanwhile, the convention center has not returned to pre-pandemic levels of attendance and events. In the budget year that ended June 30, 2019, the center hosted 114 events that attracted 489,000 attendees. In fiscal year 2023, there were 104 events with 406,000 attendees.

The convention center has 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, ranking 47th nationally in size, according to the city.

The center also loses millions of dollars annually, but that’s intentional.

Anagelica Gonzalez, marketing and communications manager, said the convention center is a “loss leader” for the city of Baltimore. That means the convention center loses money, but those losses are outweighed by the “tremendous benefit” of direct and indirect spending by attendees in the local economy, Gonzalez said.

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She pointed to reports from a consulting firm, which found the convention center generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and thousands of jobs in a typical year.

In the budget year that ended June 30, 2019, the convention center had an operating deficit of $7.7 million, but losses have ballooned since the pandemic. Four years later the deficit topped more than $15.5 million.

According to the city’s 2024 budget, the convention center is expected to lose $14.1 million in the budget year beginning in July.

Under state law, the Maryland Stadium Authority and Baltimore share the costs of any annual operating deficits. The state picks up two-thirds of the tab and the city pays the final third.