Orange County’s efforts to expand its convention center, already recognized as the second-largest in the country, entered the contracting process Thursday toward building another 340,000-square-foot in space that would include a show and concert venue capable of holding 20,000 people.

The proposed $605 million project, approved as a budget item by the Orange County Commission in October, is being put on a track to open in the summer of 2023.

The plan is to expand from both sides of the current North-South Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center, without adding a new building, so officials are calling the project a building improvement, not a major expansion. The Orange County Convention Center also has a West Concourse across the street, connected by an elevated walkway.

The improvement would include a large multipurpose show venue on the far southeast corner, carved from the parking area east of the North-South Concourse. That would provide 200,000 square feet of flexible space. Among its potential purposes: it would be capable of handling concerts and capable of holding 18,000-20,000 people.

To the west side of the North-South Concourse [as opposed to being part of the convention center’s West Concourse], plans call for a long, relatively

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