|By Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
What was envisioned as a place to attract conventions that would bring out-of-town participants who would then need to stay in hotel rooms and eat at restaurants, some claim became a facility that competed too much for local events. Recently, though, the
worked events at the center but also has also been one of those who feels the facility should concentrate more on booking out-of-town events. Dickerson said it remains to be seen how a new contract and new general manager will change the center's direction.
"I look forward to seeing what they're going to do," she said. "I don't see how a new contract makes the situation any better, I don't see what the benefit is to the local hospitality industry."
"The way I understand it, they are still keeping the same (management) company," Vacarro said. "I don't know if they'll change it or not"
"I'm hoping the new general manager will really make that a top priority," San Filippo said of the effort to bring in more outside conventions. "We've re-negotiated the contract and the contract very clearly states that as the No. 1 priority."
The CVB reports that for the 2012-13 fiscal year there were 244 events at the convention center and six were categorized as conventions. For an event to be a convention, it had to have at least one night where there were 50 or more hotel stays, with a total of 150 hotel stays for the event. For example, an event that had three nights where 50 rooms were used would count as a convention. Anything less is considered a meeting, of which there were 54. There were also banquets, weddings and other special events.
"I believe the facility can be utilized in a better way to have a more positive impact on the community as it was intended," Dickerson said.
Vacarro said he feels it is difficult to become an approved caterer for convention center events.
"You have to be approved," he said. "(They want to) make sure you can handle your staff properly."
According to the facility's outside catering guidelines, caterers have no access to convention center equipment or kitchen facilities. Catering companies need to pay a 12 percent catering commission for events and to be approved must show the ability to serve a minimum of 100 people, show proof that they have enough equipment as well as enough insurance to meet center guidelines.
"I went to the initial meeting for the caterers, but we never followed up with it," Perez said. "It's pretty ridiculous."
"I don't think the (convention center) management company is to be faulted entirely for all the hoops," Linde said. "I've had other businesses in both
Events that took place at the
Special events: 38
Consumer shows: 18
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