No agreement made on Augusta Convention Center management contra - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

No agreement made on Augusta Convention Center management contract

Augusta, GA (WFXG) - As charter buses full of convention goers pull in and out of the Marriott downtown, commissioners are still flipping through the contract of the adjacent Augusta Convention Center.

In a special work session Wednesday morning, Augusta Riverfront, who will manage the facility, explained details of the contract including a separate catering agreement, looking to get the ball rolling to run the center.

"If we bring these people to town, then they'll spend money," said Paul Simon, president of the Augusta Riverfront, LLC. "That's what the commissioners need to look at. That's what other cities look at. That's what the taxpayers need to look at."

Another aspect the taxpayers may need to look at is the risk and rewards of the deal. While the city foots the bill for all the losses, it will also receive all of the revenue, minus the cost of operations. But both commissioners and the Augusta Riverfront, who operates the Marriott and the TEE Center parking deck, says the convention center will lose money when it opens.

"The first couple of years I would think we lose a little bit; how much, I don't know," said Commissioner Joe Bowles. "That's why it's important to see the fixed costs that they have. And I know one of the largest expenses they have will be the utilities to keep such a large facility open."

The city of Augusta is putting up $350,000 annually to cover expenses and operation costs; which the city is banking on a one dollar-a-night hotel fee to finance. The city will also pay Augusta Riverfront that and a $7,000 monthly management fee, but a legal agreement has yet to be reached.

The management firm says they hope commissioners will approve the contract soon so they can start staffing the facility and have it ready to go for a facility in January. They say if they have to cancel that convention, it'll be bad publicity when it comes to booking future events.

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