MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

March 5, 2014

Fully explore Civic Center possibilities

A third-party management team is being considered to run the Muskogee Civic Center.

This is not a decision that should be made without serious consideration. And we suspect it won’t magically solve the problem of our under-utilized Civic Center.

A study presented this month shows that use of the city-owned event center during the past 10 years has been lackluster. The usage rate was calculated based upon potential and actual rental revenue.

City councilors were told in January 2012 that the center had a utilization rate of 96 percent, but officials questioned the methodology that produced those numbers. A consultant who conducted an analysis this past year debunked that.

It costs $300,000 to $350,000 per year to run the Civic Center. While that is a lot of money to the average person, it’s not a lot of money to run, maintain and staff the facility. It’s a shoestring budget.

Kimbra Scott, a spokeswoman for the city, told the Phoenix there have been discussions internally about hiring a management staff to run the facility.

The Civic Center shouldn’t exist to make a profit. And its value shouldn’t be measured in profit.

But does that mean it shouldn’t be better utilized? Self-sufficiency is an important goal and one that should be strived for.

Scott, who is designing a brochure to promote the Civic Center, said there are plans for a mini-conference for prospective clients. She said the event will be set in a “fully decorated meeting room” and include a “catered lunch to demonstrate the ability of the Civic Center and staff.”

This is a great place to start.

Muskogee taxpayers spent more than $6 million renovating the Civic Center. It needs to be shown off, and we should be getting a better return for the money we put into it.

But turning it over to a third-party entity to manage it isn’t the answer — right now.

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