Opened in 1957, the Miami Beach Convention Center has been the heart of Miami Beach for almost fifty years. It served as the site where Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) captured his first Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1964. In 1968, the Miami Beach Convention Center hosted the Republican National Convention and more than 20,000 delegates; while in 1972, more than 45,000 delegates visited the facility during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.
As the demand for exhibition space has increased, in 1990 the facility underwent a $92 million renovation and doubled in size. Coupled with recently completed multi-million dollar telecommunications infrastructure upgrades, the facility's high-tech capabilities make it a leader in the meetings industry. The building's look got a change in summer/fall 2001 with new carpet throughout, as well as an interior and exterior color/paint update.
Some major conventions held at the Miami Beach Convention Center have included the Shriners, NATPE for the television and movie industry, POW WOW for the travel industry, the Professional Convention Management Association's Annual Meeting, IAEM for the exposition management industry, and various high-tech medical conventions. Most notably, the inaugural Microsoft Global Briefing - July 2001, a major sales and technology meeting of Microsoft employees worldwide, utilized the entire Miami Beach Convention Center and Jackie Gleason Theater.
Major annual trade shows here include the Fine Jewelry Show (twice a year), Graphics of the Americas and Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference/Expo. Popular annual consumer events include the Miami International Boat Show, the South Florida Auto Show, Art Miami, Baby Faire, Home Design and Remodeling Show and the Original Miami Beach Antique Show.