Anaheim Convention Center Celebrates 50 Years

The Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) remains a jewel of the county; a striking, sweeping, provocative structure that still looks as though it’s waiting for history to catch up with it.

Fifty years ago on July 12, 1967 the ACC opened at a cost of $15 million and featured a whopping 400,000 square feet – a number that has since increased to 1,145,000 square feet! In its early years, the ACC became such a popular venue for various events that having to turn away business was not uncommon. But, amongst those who had the opportunity to utilize the new facility was President Richard Nixon, who held an event in support of Ronald Reagan's gubernatorial reelection campaign in 1970. The banner on stage read 'Welcome Home Pat & Dick,' a reference to the President's childhood years in nearby Yorba Linda.

Almost as soon as it opened, the ACC arena also became a venue for major concerts. Just three nights after the building opened, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane took the stage. Over the next several years, The Who, The Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and David Bowie were just a few of the other performers to play the flying saucer-shaped building. Elvis Presley even performed at the arena on his 1973 and 1976 tours.

A number of sports teams also came to call the ACC home over the years. The Anaheim Amigos played there during the American Basketball Association's inaugural season from 1967-1968 before relocating to Los Angeles and changing their name to the Stars. The arena was also the home venue for the San Diego Friars and the Anaheim Oranges of World Team Tennis during the mid-1970s, as well as the California Surf of the North American Soccer League from 1979-1980.

The ACC has expanded numerous times since its opening in order to be able to accommodate more and more guests, including major additions in 1974, 1982, 1990, 1993, 1998 and 2000. Currently, the ACC is undergoing its seventh expansion, which will include the addition of 200,000 square feet of flexible space that can be used for exhibits, meetings and banquets.

Today, major events such as the NAMM Show, Disney's D23 Expo and BlizzCon are held at the convention center annually, making it one of Southern California's premiere venues of its kind. Next time you're attending a trade show or passing by the distinctive 'flying saucer' on your way to the 'Happiest Place On Earth,' take a minute to stop and think about all that has happened within the ACC's storied walls.