|By Elissa Dickey, American News,
Aberdeen, S.D.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 20, 2010 --Aberdeen's newest convention center is open -- and is hosting a major event on its first day of business.
Dakota Event Center opens today on the east side of Aberdeen, hosting the Aberdeen Ag Expo. The event center is connected to Aberdeen's newest hotel, the 84-room Hampton Inn and Suites, 3216 Seventh Ave. S.E. The newly opened hotel is the first Hilton property to open in Aberdeen, according to a news release.
The local Hampton is operated and owned by Lamont Companies and Lamont Enterprises, which also own the event center and the Holiday Inn Express. All three businesses are connected.
Completing the connected complex will be a new and expanded home for Aberdeen's Mavericks restaurant, which is expected to open this spring.
The hotels and the event center together employ about 60 people, said Jeff Lamont, chief executive officer of Lamont Companies. Positions are still being hired, he said.
The Dakota Event Center can host all kinds of occasions, said Nate Kessler, director of operations for Lamont Companies. It'll go from the Ag Expo this weekend to an elegant wedding next weekend, Kessler said, and several more events have already been booked.
The center, which offers more than 27,000 square feet of meeting space, features a state-of-the-art audio-visual system, Kessler said. The entire complex offers wireless Internet, he said.
"We're proud of it," he said.
When Mavericks moves in, it will triple the restaurant's space, including a patio, said owner Kraig Schlaht. It will also likely triple its staff, Schlaht said. Mavericks is taking applications now but will have a big hiring push closer to the opening, he said.
While some menu items will be improved, the restaurant will offer the same high-quality food, service and casual, fun atmosphere it always has, Schlaht said.
Schlaht said plans for what will happen to the current Mavericks building after the move haven't been finalized.
The four-floor Hampton Inn and Suites includes a breakfast area; pool and whirlpool (although a $5 wristband gets guests into the Holiday Inn Express water park); and a fitness center whose features include TVs on each workout machine. Suites include extra space and features such as a refrigerator, microwave and a wet bar.
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