|By Rick Smith, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids,
IowaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 12, 2011--CEDAR RAPIDS -- The team of Kinseth Hospitalities Cos. of North Liberty and VenuWorks of Ames will manage the new convention center, upgraded U.S. Cellular Center arena and renovated Five Seasons hotel if the City Council approves a decision by a City Hall evaluation committee.
Members will vote on the selection at their meeting this evening.
The proposed council resolution calls for the city to immediately begin negotiations with the hotel brands identified during the evaluation committee's work. The hotel had been a Crowne Plaza until it closed for renovation in February.
John Frew, the city's consulting project manager for the convention, arena and hotel projects, on Monday said the city will negotiate with three brands -- Sheraton, DoubleTree by Hilton and Radisson -- and narrow the options down to two.
He said Sheraton has displayed the most interest, followed by DoubleTree and then Radisson.
Smith Travel Research, a national hotel-ranking service, classifies the Sheraton brand as 'upper upscale,' or one step above DoubleTree, Radisson and Crowne Plaza, which the service classi fies as 'upscale,' Frew said.
He said Holiday Inn also has expressed interest in the Five Seasons Hotel, but its brand, he noted, is lower on the rating scale than the three others.
VenuWorks now manages three city entertainment venues -- the U.S.
Cellular Center arena, the Paramount Theatre and the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
According to a citystaff memorandum to the City Council, VenuWorks will continue to operate the theater, which has been closed since the flood pending renovation, and the ice arena under its existing contract with the city.
The contract to manage the U.S. Cellular Center arena will end and be replaced by a new contract with Kinseth for the arena, convention center and hotel, according to the city memo.
Frew said Cedar Rapids' Five Seasons Hotel will rank as a 'flagship' property in Kinseth's list of hotels.
The hospitality firm operates more than 45 hotels and 10 chain-affiliated restaurants in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
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