A pair of contracts with Pennsylvania-based companies are in the works for operations at Mayo Civic Center.
The five-member board overseeing the newly formed Mayo Civic Center and Convention and Visitors Bureau corporation has selected a venue-management company and food-and-beverage service to operate at the city-owned facility.
“The board is excited to be at this stage of the process,” Board Chairman Jacob Malwitz said in a statement announcing the selections. “We received competitive proposals for operations and food and beverage service from national firms and we are confident in the process that brought us to these decisions today. It is an exciting next step for our organization and for our city’s future.”
The move starts negotiations to finalize contracts, which will be subject to board approval. Both organizations are expected to receive five-year contracts starting in January.
The board has recommended a contract with West Conshohocken, Pa.-based SMG for venue’s day-to-day operations and management, which includes booking entertainment.
SMG manages a variety of convention centers and stadiums worldwide, including US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The contract for food and beverage services is expected to be awarded to Philadelphia-based Spectra, which serves more than 140 venues in the United States and Canada.
The Civic Center and CVB corporation board made the selections on Sept. 3, following a series of closed-door interviews. Joe Ward, who was hired as president of the new corporation in August, said the closed meetings and decision-making process were used because negotiations on a final contract continue.
However, he noted the board didn’t make its decisions lightly.
“They spent multiple hours on it,” Ward said of the selection process.
The board received three proposals for facility operations and three to provide food and beverage services. In the end, two potential operators were interviewed and all three food and beverage providers were reviewed.
The shift to new operations at Mayo Civic Center stems from a Rochester City Council decision last year to create a private nonprofit corporation to oversee facility operations, as well as convention and visitors bureau functions. In January. The two entities are currently managed separately.
The board that will oversee the new corporation was named in June.
The corporation is expected to be funded by a single $3.8 million allotment from the city’s lodging tax.
Rochester City Administrator Steve Rymer has said the $3.8 million will be a reduction from what the Civic Center and Experience Rochester, the local CVB, has been receiving from the city’s lodging tax, which collects 7 cents for every dollar spent for local hotel rooms.
Last year, Experience Rochester received more than $3 million for its work based on increased lodging taxes, since it is currently contracted to receive 2 percent of the collected tax.
Operating the Mayo Civic Center in 2017 required $1.7 million from lodging tax funds, and projections indicate the center would require an estimated $2.5 million by 2023 if existing conditions went unchanged.
While the CVB operations, which include booking conventions, will continue to operate under the name Experience Rochester, Ward said staff will answer to the corporation under the operational changes.
Until contracts with SMG and Spectra are initiated, the Civic Center is being managed under a four-month contract with Jones Lang LaSalle, which was initially hired as a consultant to work on transitioning Civic Center operations.