College Station city leaders discuss next steps and vision for proposed convention center
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -College Station city leaders are continuing their push to bring a convention center to Aggieland. They met Monday ahead of their normal date to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday. During Monday’s meeting, they received a presentation from Brian Piscacek, the City of College Station Economic and Tourism Manager, regarding the scope of the potential project and gave their feedback on the things they consider important for the community.
Monday’s meeting is one of many the council has had over the last few months. The council initiated discussions about bringing a convention center to Aggieland in the early ‘90s. Despite initial plans and voter approval, setbacks occurred. Tonight, city staff will present a timeline, highlighting events like the City Council’s adoption of Public/Private Partnership guidelines in March and an August presentation on the feasibility of a convention or recreation center. During that August meeting, staff compared facility sizes, construction costs, and operations & maintenance expenses of different city facilities.
“Ultimately, the presentation will be ten percent me and 90 percent council discussion as far as what feedback they want to provide to us so we can incorporate that into a future scope and then go on down the line working with a consultant to try and lay those elements out,” said Piscacek.
City leaders were united in their vision for a facility they hope will not only draw in visitors but also meet the needs of businesses, nonprofits, local schools, and residents.
“As part of that market study, I would really like to see that they reached out to our local groups that are struggling to find space so that we can get a good needs assessment of local needs as part of the conversation about a convention center,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Chuna.
City leaders also discussed the inclusion of additional elements and types of events they would like to attract.
“Family entertainment tours, association trade shows, nonprofit groups, and concerts. What if we could do a multi-use facility instead of it purposely being built just for trade shows,” Councilman Bob Yancy added.
The idea of adding a hotel was also considered. However, there was a desire from most members of the council to facilitate site recommendations and measure the impact of a freestanding convention center, separate from an adjoined hotel.
“We don’t want to compete with our local hotels. We want them to succeed, and we want to be a part of that success,” said Councilman Mark Smith.
Council also addressed the financial side of things when opening a facility of this nature, noting that success doesn’t happen overnight.
“When you’re in that industry, a conference or convention will bid two to three years out, so we’re not going to have overnight business,” said Councilwoman Linda Harvell.
“Convention centers lose money, but they bring people in, and these people buy things, they stay at your hotels, they buy things in your stores, and they celebrate your community,” Councilman Dennis Maloney added.
City staff will take the recommendations heard during Monday’s council meeting and develop a plan they hope to be able to update in the coming months.
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