Chesapeake Hands Over Control of Conference Center

The City Council has approved a five-year contract handing over management of the city’s money-losing conference center to a private firm.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to put VenuWorks of Ames, Iowa, in charge of operating and marketing the $9 million events facility in Greenbrier.
The center has seen bookings decline since the city bought it in 1997. It has been kept afloat with cash infusions of more than $2 million a year from hotel and restaurant taxes.

City leaders said they selected the company based on its track record managing some 50 municipal arenas, museums and conference centers around the country.
Company officials said they expect to boost business and cut the operating deficit in half by the end of the second year. Under the contract, the city will pay the company $96,000 a year in management fees plus incentives and commissions. The city will cover operating expenses.

By Jeff Sheler
The Virginian-Pilot
© February 12, 2014

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