RI Convention Center, Dunkin Donuts Center ready to host events following pandemic conversions
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Large-scale business and entertainment is about to return to Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Convention Center is set to host a construction trade show in mid-August— the first event it’s held in nearly a year and a half.
“It’s been a long 15-16 months, but we’re ready to go and ready to start getting people back into downtown,” said Dan McConaghy, executive director of the R.I. Convention Center Authority.
During the pandemic, the Convention Center was transformed into the state’s main field hospital, serving more than 500 covid-19 patients.
The Dunkin Donuts Center next door was also converted into a covid-19 testing site, then later a vaccination site. According to state officials, it was responsible for testing 257,000 people and vaccinating 120,000 others.
Up the road, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium housed all three branches of the state government during the pandemic, including the Governor and Department of Health’s weekly covid-19 media briefings.
“Everybody took on a different role in terms of trying to support the state’s response to the pandemic,” said McConaghy.
The Convention Center has a full slat of events for the summer and fall months, including Rhode Island Comic Con which will be held in November.
The Providence Bruins and Providence College Friars will resume playing games at the Dunkin Donuts Center in October.
“We are the economic engine for both Providence and the state as a whole and we’re the primary one for downtown,” said McConaghy.
“We need to get people back down here to help the hotels, fill rooms, fill the restaurants, and fill the other businesses,” he continued, “so we’re just about ready to do that and we’re really excited about it.”