Events center losses predicted

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Officials with a Philadelphia-based facility management firm warned Curry County commissioners the county will lose about $500,000 during the Special Events Center’s first year of operation.

Global Spectrum representative Neil McMullin said the county could continue to see losses of up to a $500,000 a year for at least four years before breaking even.

The $7 million center is scheduled to open in August.

County officials said the purpose of building the events center was a quality of life issue and not to generate revenue.

The county on Tuesday will decide whether to hire Global Spectrum to run the Special Events Center and the Curry County Fairgrounds.

Global Spectrum, which also manages Clovis’ Civic Center, was the only firm to submit a management bid. The firm would charge the county $96,000 per year to operate the fairgrounds and the events center.

McMullin said the biggest opportunity for events at the facilities will come from the agricultural community.

“We may not have a hockey team, and we may not have a basketball team, but we have a great ag community,” he said.

McMullin said the county’s decision not to apply for a liquor license for the Special Events Center or the fairgrounds will impact the revenue, the number of events and attendance.

In September county commissioners voted 3-2 against alcohol sales at the events center.

Commissioners Pete Hulder and Bobby Sandoval, who voted for alcohol sales, said they hope the issue of alcohol sales would be brought up again.

“I don’t know if this county can afford $500,000 a year,” Sandoval said.

McMullin said the county would generate about $200,000 more in revenue with alcohol sales.

“It’s a bargaining tool,” he said. “In a small town like this, you’ll want to use a tool like this to entice people to come to your event.”

Commission Chairman Albin Smith, who voted against alcohol sales, said the issue would likely be raised again.

Commissioner Tim Ashley said he believes the county has the money to support the event center, referring to when the county raised gross receipt taxes a year ago.

“So currently we have a good, positive cash flow,” he said.

The commissioners said raising taxes to support the events center is not an option.