Government

More News | | | Editor

Delays affect bookings at TEE Center

  • Follow Local Business

The TEE Center construction project is behind schedule, which has caused problems in booking events for the convention center expansion.

Back | Next
Construction continues on the TEE Center in downtown Augusta.  Emily Rose Bennett/Staff
Emily Rose Bennett/Staff
Construction continues on the TEE Center in downtown Augusta.

Originally set to be complete in the second quarter of next year, the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center is now scheduled to be finished by late summer, Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell said. He expects the center to open in late 2012.

The lack of a completion date has made it difficult to make bookings, said Darryl Leech, the vice president and general manager at Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center.

The TEE Center is an expansion of a city-owned conference center at the Marriott, which will run the facility. The construction project is adding 40,000 square feet of exhibit space.

“There’s a lot of interest in the center, but currently, we don’t have a definitive date on when we’re going to open,” Leech said.

“Until we get that, it’s very difficult to put somebody in as a definite. It takes a little while to ramp up this type of additional space because it’s new. You have to get some customers here to see it pretty close to completion. That’s when they want to sign on the dotted line.”

The TEE Center space, which Leech refers to officially as the Olm­stead A & B Exhibit Hall, probably won’t be fully booked immediately because customers will want to know that it’s finished, he said.

“The good news is as operators we have a pretty good reputation. They know that we’ll take care of them when they come here, so that’s a plus for us,” Leech said.

Russell said the project had an “aggressive schedule” and that it’s “not uncommon to have some slippage in the schedule as a project progresses.” He cited survey issues and steel detailing that needed correction as the reasons for the delays.

“We were not able to get submittals (shop drawings) approved early on due to the fact that the survey was off, and it affected the steel dimensions,” Russell wrote in an e-mail. “We were able to keep the job moving in some areas, but the super structure steel delayed us. We did have a few weather delays early on during site work, but that didn’t really affect the schedule.”

Despite the delays, the project is still budgeted at $29.5 million, Russell said. Kitchen equipment was added to the project per the construction manager’s scope, but funds were pulled from the fixtures, furniture and equipment budget to cover the costs, he said.

GROUPS THAT HAVE expressed interest in the exhibit space include consumer shows, sporting events, large groups that couldn’t fit into the previous space at the Au­gusta Marriott, existing clients and schools for graduation ceremonies, Leech said.

“What we want to do is create economic impact for the community by putting lots of functions in there,” Leech said.

Barry White, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bu­reau, agrees that “having a facility that is opened to showcase to residents and prospective clients” will make booking clients easier, though there has already been a lot of interest. The Augusta CVB is in charge of marketing and is planning a marketing campaign that will run about 12 months before the center’s opening, he said.

“Both the clients and residents will understand it more once they can actually walk in and see it, touch it and feel it,” White said. “People who plan events professionally are typically risk averse. If they’re hosting a conference for 500 people and they’re going to plan it at a facility two years from now, and the facility isn’t open yet versus one that is open, their worst nightmare would be to book something … and not be able to have it.

“Once we get further into construction and get a firm opening date, interest will grow exponentially.”

BASED ON PRACTICES at convention centers in sim­ilar-sized cities in the South­east, Augusta appears to be on track with its marketing plan. Ideally, convention cen­ters should start marketing six months to a year before opening, said Jimmy Holmes, the president of H Two Marketing, which handles marketing for the James H. Rainwater Conference Center in Valdosta, Ga.

The Valdosta conference center didn’t work with a professional marketing company when it opened in 2000 and got a late start on its marketing, said Mary Culbreth, the interim director.

“We didn’t start marketing our facility until we moved in it,” Culbreth said. “Usually things are a year or two out when you try to book conventions and large conferences. We should have probably started marketing ours earlier, however, we did not. We have been really busy, but it took us awhile to get started because of that.”

In hindsight, Culbreth said, they should have started marketing when they learned estimated dates that the building would be completed and opened.

The Chattanooga Con­ven­tion Center in Chatta­noo­ga, Tenn., started its marketing campaign, with assistance from the city’s convention and visitors bureau, when the building was about 50 percent complete, said executive director Mike Shuford.

“Nobody’s going to book until they make sure that the building is going to be complete.” Shuford said.

The facility originally opened in April 1985, but they weren’t able to get contracts for any conventions signed until July or August, he said.

The Chattanooga Conven­tion Center has been an asset to the city. The original facility had an average economic impact of $20 million a year. When major renovations and an expansion were completed in 2003, the economic impact doubled to $38 million to $40 million, Shuford said.

TEE CENTER TIMELINE

2001: Original feasibility study conducted

2005: $20 million in special purpose local option sales tax funding approved by voters

2006: Sales tax went into effect

2009: Project received final approval from Augusta Commission

2010: TEE Center groundbreaking in June

2012: Construction to be completed by late summer 2012, open to the public by the end of the year

Source: Barry White, president and CEO, Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Comments (23) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
93672
Points
Riverman1 12/10/11 - 02:12 pm
0
0
Ahhhhh, the spin is starting

Ahhhhh, the spin is starting why the TEE won't have anything booked. Before it was all about the events that wanted to come here. Ha...guess, the reality has hit.

You better tell the builders to slow down even more if you don't want to be embarrassed by the lack of outside events coming.

Interesting that NOW they are saying they are going to book local events such as school graduations and sporting events. Someone tell me why we have the James Brown Arena again. Remember when I repeatedly said all the TEE would do is take business from existing venues?

Interesting the $29.5 million price tag is mentioned. The cost of the parking deck for the building was left off. What's that another $15 million? The Laney Walker payoff for the black commissioners voting to approve the TEE? Another $50 million plus.

Folks, this white elephant is going to end up costing over $100 million and tie up the motel tax for decades. Nauseating as the smell coming from a dumpster in the downtown area.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 12/10/11 - 02:33 pm
0
0
So let me get this right.

So let me get this right. Folks will not sign on the dotted line unless the place is open, and these events are planned two yers out, so does that mean we will have to wait up to two years after it is open to have large out of town events there? Looks like it huh?

Also, Riverman1, you called this 100% right from the begining. You said it would only take business from venues already in Augusta.

And you forgot that the Riverfront gang get $300,000.00 a year to run it for the next 30 years. Plus a new parking deck we built for them on their land, plus they get the ground floor of 160 parking places for 15 years, plus we will pay them to run it too.

Best line in the story, “What we want to do is create economic impact for the community by putting lots of functions in there,” Leech said"

AAAHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Riverman1
93672
Points
Riverman1 12/10/11 - 02:37 pm
0
0
"The TEE Center space, which

"The TEE Center space, which Leech refers to officially as the Olmstead A & B Exhibit Hall, probably won’t be fully booked immediately because customers will want to know that it’s finished, he said."

Heh, heh, heh. Keep those excuses coming. Remember what Dr. Heywood Sanders tried to tell you? This thing won't make enough money from outsiders coming to events to pay for the toilet paper that comes off the reels and rolls out on the floor getting wet from all the backed up sewage created by those who wanted a piece of the $100 million.

Riverman1
93672
Points
Riverman1 12/10/11 - 02:44 pm
0
0
Brad, this is sweet as the

Brad, this is sweet as the girl working at the Splenda factory.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 12/10/11 - 02:56 pm
0
0
"Once we get further into

"Once we get further into construction and get a firm opening date, interest will grow exponentially.”

exponentially.....

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 12/10/11 - 03:12 pm
0
0
naming it olmstead now? but
Unpublished

naming it olmstead now? but but but i thought the olmstead area was just trash and nice things needed to be moved out from there. is there an undercurrent of interest in olmstead?

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 12/10/11 - 04:52 pm
0
0
Undersized, way overbudget

Undersized, way overbudget and under booked...

Parking Gate (the fiasco over the TEE Center's Parking deck) which there never really has been an explanation concerning and now this white elephant.

There really needs to be an independent investigation into why so much has gone wrong, why no one seemed to listen or want to listen to experts (Dr. Sanders), why is it going to be so undersized for its final price tag and why an appointed incompetent still has his job.

The TEE Center and its Parking Deck an exercise with government officials 'gone wild'. There will be accountability!

TrulyWorried
16509
Points
TrulyWorried 12/10/11 - 05:13 pm
0
0
Steel coming from China???

Steel coming from China???

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 12/10/11 - 05:40 pm
0
0
Wheres the "c" man when hes

Wheres the "c" man when hes needed? He better get up to F5 status in order to spin this one.

dichotomy
37454
Points
dichotomy 12/10/11 - 05:55 pm
0
0
It's what happens when a

It's what happens when a bunch of crooked commissioners convince a bunch of not too bright voters that it is a good idea to give $50 million to the wealthiest people in the area and pay another $50 million in blackmail to get the votes to do it. The majority of the voters in RC are just not smart enough to figure out that these same two factions have been beating them like a rented mule since Consolidation.

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 12/10/11 - 06:44 pm
0
0
Maybe it will be like The

Maybe it will be like The White's Building and take 8 years to finish. It's not like a bunch of conventions are clamoring to use the space.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 12/10/11 - 08:21 pm
0
0
Twelve comments? I was

Twelve comments? I was generous by counting mine. Thought the "outrage" would be more pronounced.

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 12/11/11 - 12:24 am
0
0
Yes, Augusta where is the

Yes, Augusta where is the outrage as TaylorB talked about...

So why aren't there more hard hitting investigative reports to the mess of a parking deck. Its ownership is still in limbo and we discussing 'air rights' instead of land rights.

As for the final cost of the TEE Center it is around 72.5 million (all costs and expenses) now, they want to slow the project down because it has nothing booked. So this project slowdown will increase the final cost, punched out and ready to occupy at what 100, 120 or 150 million dollars (total costs)?

It is the Christmas Season it is so nice to give our tax dollars to the few connected and wealthy in Augusta. Merry Christmas...

Riverman1
93672
Points
Riverman1 12/11/11 - 12:56 am
0
0
I'm going to try to remain

I'm going to try to remain calm about this article which is just more of the subterfuge associated with all aspects of the TEE center. What is disheartening is we tried to warn the politicians and the public about the monumental risk to the stupendous money spent on a project that was likely to fail. Can you imagine what downtown Augusta could look like with $100 million being used the right way, including police protection?

Yet, we were subjected to scorn in these very comments by some who stand to get a slice of the pie. Sure, it's frustrating, but moreso sad as we see what it has come to.

So in an attempt to save face the TEE people are hanging out around local high schools, waiting to see the principal and soliciting to have the kids' graduations there. Someone keep track of the events the TEE finally finds that haven't used the JB Arena in the past.

At the best, all the place will be is a change of venue that hurts our existing facilities. From our disappointment, maybe a new found vigilance will emerge in Augusta.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 12/11/11 - 04:06 am
0
0
Taylor B, give it time, it

Taylor B, give it time, it was posted at night, Sat night for the Sunday crowd. I suspect we will see LL and a few others on here today.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 12/11/11 - 08:13 am
0
0
"bunch of crooked

"bunch of crooked commissioners convince a bunch of not too bright voters that it is a good idea to give $50 million to the wealthiest people in the area". Didn't they only convince them to give $20 million?

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/11/11 - 08:47 am
0
0
Would seem to me you have an
Unpublished

Would seem to me you have an extemely well run Chamber of Comm erce, why not put the CVB under their direction and start with a fresh approach.

And Morris and Company are astute, savvy businessmen...good for them. Considering areas of Richmond County (Laney Walker) that continue to have money poured down a toilet, this project has the benefit to move Augusta and the downtown forward.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 12/11/11 - 09:15 am
0
0
Steel was bought based on a
Unpublished

Steel was bought based on a faulty survey? Kitchen equipment was left out of the contract? Late summer = late 2012? The Augusta CVB is in charge of marketing and is planning a marketing campaign that will run about 12 months before the center’s opening. I would say Mr White is about a year late in his marketing plan. Is it an exhibit hall or a visitors center and which elected official decided top name it the A$B qnd what does that stand for. Why not "The Augusta Convention Center? At least that would let people know where we are. You would think a facility that costs $737 a square foot would be under better construction management. And finally just what sporting events are they planning in a facility that dosen't have tiered seating?

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/11/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
And by the way, Leech does an
Unpublished

And by the way, Leech does an excellent job at the Marriott, heis one of Augusta's most outstanding...and overlooked...business leaders. We need to run thim through a copy machine.

Riverman1
93672
Points
Riverman1 12/11/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
Madgerman or anyone, I really

Madgerman or anyone, I really can't remember, but what's the current city owned center at the Morris owned Marriott named?

The truth is the TEE has been aggressively marketed all over the south for quite awhile and there are simply no takers. They had to come up with excuses.

There probably is a large degree of confusion about the finish date with the builders, but I also suspect they were told to take it easy so the building wouldn't be sitting embarassingly empty for such a long, long time. About the revelations they are now seeking sports events in competition with the JB Arena, I suggest mud rassling with David Fry as one of the contestants.

DowntownJaguar
123
Points
DowntownJaguar 12/11/11 - 01:44 pm
0
0
I was at an event back in the

I was at an event back in the summer that discussed the state of the region. This employee from the AMCVB stood up and bragged about two things: 1) the project was on schedule and 2) they already had bookings. Someone obviously lied to her or something has changed immensely in just a few months. Dang.

Little Lamb
49038
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/11 - 04:19 pm
0
0
I always envisioned

I always envisioned convention centers as great big boxes with plenty of floor space to set up tables with posters and products and brochures on them, as well as some side rooms with tables and slide projectors for people to meet in. Here we see that this facility is going to have a space for concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies. Tell me again why we needed this facility AND James Brown Arena? One of these facilities will wither and die. I wonder which one? Hopefully it will be a fairly quick death for the sake of the taxpayers paying to support two convention centers (or arenas – take your pick of names).

I wish an intrepid Chronicle reporter would take a hypothetical high school graduation ceremony and calculate how much the city general fund receives from it if the ceremony is held in the JBA versus how much the city general fund would receive for the same ceremony held in the TEE. My guess is that the overhead will be higher in the TEE, generating less for the city.

Little Lamb
49038
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/11 - 04:24 pm
0
0
MadGerman wrote: And finally

MadGerman wrote:

And finally just what sporting events are they planning in a facility that dosen't have tiered seating?

I made my post above before I read your post, Madgerman. When I saw they were trying to book sporting events and graduation ceremonies I just assumed they would have the kind of seating that supports those activities. Hey, maybe they are going to have the kind of seating that high-school basketball gyms have — you know, the kind that can be folded up against the wall to make for more floor space? Those don't have back rests, however. Graduation ceremonies are bad enough in comfortable seats. They would be intolerable on backless benches!

Little Lamb
49038
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/11 - 04:29 pm
0
0
LaTina Emerson wrote: The

LaTina Emerson wrote:

The Augusta CVB is in charge of marketing and is planning.

You mean the astronomical fee we are paying the Morris organization to manage the facility does not include marketing? Imagine that!

augusta citizen
10021
Points
augusta citizen 12/11/11 - 06:31 pm
0
0
Well for goodness sake, if

Well for goodness sake, if the TEE Center and the James Brown Arena will both be suitable for graduations and weddings, surely we don't need a stadium on the river that can accomodate those functions as well. Of course, I guess the stadium is like the Tee Center, the horse is already out of the barn.

Little Lamb
49038
Points
Little Lamb 12/11/11 - 07:14 pm
0
0
The reason we need the

The reason we need the baseball stadium on Reynolds Street is so Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center can market the graduations, weddings and family reunions as package deals. They offer contingencies. For example, you want a big outdoor wedding in June on the baseball field. Fine. But what if it rains? No problem. The entire affair can be held in the TEE Center. Weather-related contingencies are included in the rental price!

Jilly Bean
0
Points
Jilly Bean 12/12/11 - 12:29 am
0
0
There are only 25 comments by

There are only 25 comments by 12 posters. Maybe the rest of the community understands and has faith in the project. Why are the same people always being negative? I guess i havent lived here long enough to understand.

GeezeLouise
0
Points
GeezeLouise 02/02/12 - 03:32 pm
0
0
Maybe because they are being
Unpublished

Maybe because they are being taken to the cleaners

Back to Top

Top headlines

Daniel Field removes trees, lights structures in airspace

Daniel Field, managed by operations company Augusta Aviation, has spent more than $30,000 conducting land surveys, removing 30 trees and installing red blinking lights on top of the Newman Tennis ...
Search Augusta jobs