Three firms seek to operate downtown convention center

Tribune-Star file photo/Joseph C. GarzaSteve Bauer, vice president of construction services for Nations Group,  talks about the downtown convention center to a packed room at the Hilton Garden Inn during an unveiling of renderings in January 2019. 

Three proposals have been submitted by companies hoping to serve as facility operator for a downtown Terre Haute Convention Center.

The companies that submitted proposals were ASM Global, Oak View Group and Spectra. All three attended a pre-poposal meeting in January.

“We are very excited about the quality of applications we have received. Most of the applicants who applied have shown interest in this project for some time and all of the applicants are what my team and I consider operation experts,” Steve Bauer, vice president of construction services for Nations Group, said in a news release.

“They believe wholeheartedly in this project, just as we do," Bauer said.

A selection committee of the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board will review the applications, with a contract then to be negotiated. On the committee are Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, Board of Commissioners President Brad Anderson and David Patterson, executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While interviews and discussions are not open to the public, a final selection of an operator will be made during a public meeting of the CIB. Interviews are slated for this week and next, with a decision coming early in March.

The selected firm will oversee the convention center's day-to-day operations and conduct marketing to bring in events. Management duties will include providing food service for events and seeing to any post-construction needs. The operator will submit budgets to the CIB.

“We knew from the beginning having an operator who has extensive experience in all operational aspects would be crucial to our short and long-term success. From the pre-construction process to daily operations, each of these operators have experience in making sure we think through every detail,” said Jon Marvel, CIB president.

Construction of the convention center has been on pause pending resolution of a parking matter. The Terre Haute City Council next month will vote on an ordinance that could limit the use of surface parking along Wabash Avenue and 7th Street.

Property at 686 Wabash owned by the Vigo County School Corp. is being considered as a low-cost alternative to building a multi-level parking garage for the Hilton Garden Inn.

The CIB is obligated to provide the hotel with parking as the hotel is providing land for the new convention center, which would reduce the hotel's current parking space.  

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