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NEWORLEANS - City officials and NFL representatives are hosting a special ribbon cutting ceremony for the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Friday.

The ceremony will serve as grand opening of the Great Hall, previously known as Hall A, which will house the 60,000 square foot NFL Shop for the Super Bowl.

'The Convention Center never really had a sense of approach. We never had a real front door. So, we felt that was very, very necessary in order to engage our visitors when they come,' said Bob Johnson, general manger of the Convention Center.

Hall A is now a column-free 'grand meeting space,' Johnson said.

The hall was renamed the Great Hall in deference to the World's Fair in 1984, during which it was referred to by the same name.

There is also a new 4,000 square foot meeting room with a terrace that overlooks the city scape. It was named the Rivergate Room in honor of the history of the exhibition industry in New Orleans.

The hall's first purpose will be to serve as the entrance to the NFL Experience. The NFL Store opens in the hall on Friday, and the Experience opens at the Convention Center on Wednesday. The Experience takes up the 1,000,000 square feet of the building.

'We had to get this project planned, designed, demolished and constructed in 13 months,' Johnson said.

Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and Mayor Mitch Landrieu will be present at the 10 a.m. dedication.

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