|By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer,
Owensboro, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 24, 2011--Ground won't be broken for four months and the doors aren't expected to open until November of 2013, but the city of Owensboro is already seeking a private company to manage and operate the $47 million downtown convention center.
In fact, the city hopes to have a management company in place within 90 days, along with a marketing plan for the facility.
Why the big hurry? Because when it comes to conventions and events, they are typically booked three or four years in advance, according to a city official, and the city wants the 169,000-square-foot convention center's calendar to be crowded when it opens for business.
"Honestly, we would have liked to have had someone on board three months ago," said Tony Cecil, the city's operations manager. But three months ago the final size and design of the convention center was still up in the air and management companies need to know those things, Cecil said. All of that has since been nailed down. Construction is now scheduled to begin in February. Some events may be scheduled even before then, Cecil said.
"I don't think it's uncommon to book events without ground being broken," he said. "Ideally in 90 days we'll have a marketing plan from the manager."
The city ran a legal advertisement in the Messenger-Inquirer on Sept. 18 seeking proposals for management and operation of the Owensboro Convention Center, consisting of 40,000 square feet of exhibit space and 20,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space. The deadline to submit proposals to the City Purchasing Department at City Hall is 4 p.m. Oct. 13.
Cecil said the city expects at least three or four proposals from established convention center management companies.
One convention center management company that is already very familiar with the plans for the Owensboro convention center is Global Spectrum. The company, which operates convention and events centers across the country, was hired as a consultant on the project, specifically to advise architect Trahan Architects and construction manager Denark Construction.
(c)2011 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)
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