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Augusta Convention Center to be complete in January; 12 events planned

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The expansion of the downtown Augusta convention center is on track to be completed in January, the same month as the first scheduled event.

At the riverfront exhibit hall on Reynolds Street, kitchen equipment is being installed, the concrete has been poured for the exhibition hall and the entrance into the parking deck, the Harrison building, is being completed, said Forrest White, a senior associate for Heery International Inc., the company hired as program manager for the Capital Improvements Program in Augusta-Richmond County.

“We can start putting our ceiling and drywall in. They’re doing painting. We’re on schedule,” White said.

The 38,000-square-foot convention center costs $29.5 million and is being financed by $20 million in special purpose local option sales tax funding approved by voters in 2005.

A westbound lane of Reynolds Street that has been closed during construction will reopen in late September, said Jacques Ware, a project manager for Dukes Edwards & Dukes, a subconsultant for Heery International. The exterior signs, balcony railing and other finishes require lift equipment that needs to be positioned along the street, he said.

Ware said the lane can reopen after the convention center sign, which will read “Augusta Convention Center,” is placed and other overhead work on that side of the building is completed.

“Basically, I’m providing safety for the workers as they incorporate the remaining items on the facade of the building,” Ware said.

The first booking at the center, also called the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center, is for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police 2013 Winter Training Conference, from Jan. 27-30, said Katrina Selby, the director of marketing communications for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The CVB has been told that the official opening date of the center is Jan. 1, so the staff is not worried about delays, Selby said.

“We have no concerns that it will not be ready to open Jan. 1,” Selby said. “My understanding is that substantial completion will actually be done in the fall, and then it’s just doing the punch list of things that need to be done for final opening in January.”

There are 12 signed contracts for the center. Eleven of the groups will arrive in 2013, and one is signed for September 2015, according to a release.

These events, excluding the Augusta Tattoo Festival because it is a consumer show, are expected to bring $7.2 million to Augusta in direct visitor spending.

“It is great to welcome new groups to Augusta, but is also great to welcome back groups that had grown too big to meet in Augusta,” Barry White, the president and CEO of the CVB, said in a news release.

Ten of the groups would not have been able to meet in Augusta without the flat, column-free space that will be offered at the center.

The 12 groups will bring an estimated 9,800 visitors to Augusta. Direct visitor spending is based on the amount of money that attendees spend during a conference and how many nights they spend in a hotel.

White said that he had been working with some of the groups for two years to schedule their events in the center. Five of the groups signed contracts at the end of June.

GROUPS WITH SIGNED CONTRACTS FOR CONVENTION CENTER
   Estimated direct
DateNameDelegatesvisitor spending
Jan. 27-30Georgia Association of250$227,430
 Chiefs of Police 2013 Winter  
 Training Conference  
March 20-24Mary Kay Career Conference2,000$131,404
April 1-3East Center Georgia Changes600$303,240
 EMS Conference  
April 1-5ESi WebEOC Conference300$586,264
May 29-31Georgia Society of250$141,512
 Association Executives  
June 13Augusta Tattoo FestivalN/AN/A
June 17-23Most Worshipful Prince Hall1,900$480,130
 Grand Lodge of Georgia  
 Annual Meeting  
July 15-18Georgia Sheriffs’ Association200$224,903
Sept. 20-24, 2013Georgia Association of Housing300$409,879.40
 and Redevelopment Authority  
 Annual Conference  
Sept. 27-29, 2013ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta3,500$4 million
Oct. 21-25, 2013Georgia Nurses Association150$151,620
Sept. 4-8, 2015American Holistic Veterinary350$586,264
 Medicine Association  

Source: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Conservative Man
4578
Points
Conservative Man 08/04/12 - 06:55 pm
5
0

Cool!

Yet another "Billy Barn". Paid for by me..the Augusta taxpayer...Oh Happy Day!!

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 08/04/12 - 07:12 pm
5
0

Augusta tattoo festival???

Unpublished

Augusta tattoo festival??? Well, it's rather fitting for downtown Augusta. I suppose the Augusta strip club convention will be signing up soon.

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/05/12 - 05:13 am
3
0

LOL...Hilarious. It's 12 events through fall of 2015

So we get this fluff piece in response to my comments. Friends, please look at the history carefully. It is funny.

Understand what's considered an acceptable occupancy rate for convention centers. We aren't remotely close to it. Honestly, do you all remember what was said trying to prod voters to approve an $18 million TEE Center that has turned into something vastly different? This is going to be a hilarious thread.

Shellman
623
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Shellman 08/04/12 - 07:26 pm
4
0

Pretty Pathetic Really

Unpublished

This list of so-called conventions is extremely underwhelming.. Most of these are local or state groups.. not much economic impact there. The local groups probably will just commute and not even stay in any hotels. How do the taxpayers recoup their money again on this white elephant? Augusta Tattoo festival? Really?

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/04/12 - 07:32 pm
5
0

I like the housing thing they

I like the housing thing they carry out to the cents to make the money appear greater. LOL. Now keep in mind, this same housing association meeting has been here before and utilized the JB Arena.

What would Augusta have done without the Tattoo Conference. This is getting to be so funny not even the powers that be can deny it.

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/04/12 - 07:35 pm
5
0

Keep in Mind, It should have opened last spring

The original projections were it should have opened this PAST SPRING. There certainly wasn't inclement weather. So why was the opening delayed almost a year? We all know why. Comments from officials have even hinted at the reason....no events.

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/04/12 - 07:43 pm
6
0

Heery International Inc

Now that's a hilarious story by itself.

Dr. Heywood Sanders, the noted authority on convention centers, tried to come to Augusta to explain why the TEE wouldn't work to this same group of Commissioners and Mayor. A few of us fought very hard here to explain the move that bordered on malfeasance.

I was met with one official after another explaining to me why it HAD to be built. Some of these people, I would have thought better of, caved in and made comments here in response to me. Yet, I've never heard one apology. I'm sick.

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/04/12 - 07:55 pm
5
0

Keep in mind, we are paying the Marriott $350,000 a year

Oh, keep in mind, we are paying the Marriott $350,000 a year starting THIS YEAR to market this white elephant.

And, heck, I was about to forget the parking deck freebies and management fee.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 08/04/12 - 07:59 pm
6
0

Let's do the math....

Even at a 10 percent local sales tax, $7.2 million in "direct visitor spending" in Augusta generates only $720,000.

At that rate, it would take just shy of 41 years to break even on the construction of the Marriott Convention Center.

That's 41 years to break even, not turn a profit.

That's 41 years to break even on construction, not the cost of operation.

That's 41 years to break even on the convention center, not the multi-million dollar parking garage extravaganza next door to it.

By the way, we don't pay 10 percent in local sales tax.

Riverman1
70477
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Riverman1 08/04/12 - 08:02 pm
2
0

BTW, Thanks to Ms Emerson

This is about as honest at it gets, sans the decimal point with the housing authority. Do y'all see why I get upset when someone starts throwing out the events coming to the TEE and not telling us what they are and over what time frame? See why I get disgusted?

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/04/12 - 08:02 pm
4
0

12 meetings in 2 years?

Unpublished

Are you kidding me? This was the big list of conventions Barry White said was lined up waiting to come to Augusta if we built a TEE Center? let's do the math.. this is 1 meeting every 2 months.. or one meeting every 60 days! wow.. let's see Augusta taxpayers might recoup their investment in say 200 years

Gage Creed
12346
Points
Gage Creed 08/04/12 - 08:04 pm
5
0

I wonder what happened to the

I wonder what happened to the revenue for meetings and exhibitions that used to be held at JBA? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain....

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/04/12 - 08:06 pm
3
0

The funniest part...

Barry White admits in his press release that it took two years to get some of these conventions booked.

County PR Man is going to spin this by saying the Marriott Convention Center isn't even open yet. But if it took two years to get 10 conventions, don't expect a packed calendar in the next four months.

It took two years and this is what we got?

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/04/12 - 08:07 pm
4
0

Insider..

Unpublished

You said Augusta doesnt get 10% in sales tax.. didnt you just hear.. the stupid voters in Augusta passed T-splost so it will be darn close to 10%. Augusta will have one of the highest sales taxes in the state... yeah that should really have em flocking down. What a waste of money. yeah now we know why the Marriott wanted the taxpayers to shoulder the cost of this white elephant.. and we pay them to run it to boot! Wow the commissioners and mayor should win a bobby prize for idiots of the century.

itsanotherday1
34597
Points
itsanotherday1 08/04/12 - 09:05 pm
2
0

As a ColCo resident, I've not

As a ColCo resident, I've not paid close attention to the details. Who, exactly, is paying for this fiasco? Is it a direct cost to ARC taxpayers or just a waste of splost money that consumers in ARC spent?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/04/12 - 09:51 pm
4
0

the tattoo expo has been held

the tattoo expo has been held before in augusta. in an existing venue even. seems like the tee center has just taken at least one event from the james brown arena.

Little Lamb
40104
Points
Little Lamb 08/04/12 - 10:41 pm
5
0

Hey, Riverman

What about that line item for the ESI Ironman in September, 2013? That's the same event they've had for several years here, the one Deke rides his bike in. They haven't needed a convention center before, just a river and some roads. I guess after they take off their Speedos, they will put on tuxedos and have dinner at the TEE.

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/04/12 - 10:45 pm
3
0

I'd laugh...

Unpublished

if this wasn't so darn expensive

countyman
16789
Points
countyman 08/04/12 - 11:11 pm
1
8

The voters of Richmond County

The voters of Richmond County approved the TEE Center development... The negative comments only show who is out of touch with the majority of local citizens...

Little Lamb
40104
Points
Little Lamb 08/04/12 - 11:13 pm
6
1

TSPLOST

Yeah, and the voters of Richmond County also approve the recent TSPLOST referendum. Two wrongs do not make a right.

countyman
16789
Points
countyman 08/04/12 - 11:46 pm
0
4

It's only wrong in your mind

It's only wrong in your mind because you didn't agree with the final outcome..

The voters in Richmond and the surrouding counties approved TSPLOST... Even the heavily republican Columbia County had over 40% of the population vote for TSPOLST... I think the majority of people realized DOT can't even afford to cut the grass along the interstates/highways.. Roads projects like the widening of Old Petersburg/Flowing Wells in Columbia County and Marks Church rd/Windsor Spring/Wrightsboro rd in Richmond County wouldn't have started anytime soon...

I'm pretty sure the voters of RC approved the TEE Center for a variety of reasons.. One reason is probably because you can't name any successful city without an convention center..

It's funny some of the people who live in Columbia County always bring up anything negative towards the TEE Center.. Yet they don't seem to care how their leaders decided to build a exhibition hall next to Walmart lol, and you didn't even get the chance to vote yes or no..

itsanotherday1
34597
Points
itsanotherday1 08/04/12 - 11:51 pm
2
0

Again, I ask. WHO is paying

Again, I ask. WHO is paying for the TEE center?

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/05/12 - 01:11 am
4
0

Who needs Comdex or Comicon?

Unpublished

When you have the Tattoo festival and the Quattlebaum Family reunion?

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/05/12 - 01:15 am
3
0

itsanotherday...

Unpublished

The TAXPAYERS!!! it is 100% financed thru taxes and tax backed municipal bonds.. This is the sort of crap that caused Stockton, CA to go bankrupt

Shellman
623
Points
Shellman 08/05/12 - 01:19 am
5
0

county

Unpublished

are you just purposefully being disingenuous or are you just ignorant? You should know full well that RC voters approved a splost referendum that included only $20 million for a convention center... they never voted for a $38 million convention center...$12 million parking deck...and 38 million to an amorphous Laney-Walker tax pit.

countyman
16789
Points
countyman 08/05/12 - 02:15 am
0
3

The voters in your county

The voters in your county didn't get the chance to vote at all... They took forever to break ground on the facility and the cost went up over time.. The Laney Walker/Bethlehem funds are coming from the tourist staying at local hotels in Richmond County..

I think having vibrant inner city neighborhoods benefit the entire county.. Additional people walking, riding bikes, using public transportation, rail in the urban core, etc... The Laney Walker neighborhood and Harrisburg will both change for the better over the next few years...

Itsanotherday1... Splost funds

seenitB4
72524
Points
seenitB4 08/05/12 - 04:14 am
3
0

12 events in 2 years

Ain't that special....

Where do I sign up for the tattoo event.....I need to shock my daughters again..:)

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/05/12 - 05:32 am
2
0

Another case of the outlying county supporting downtown

Another case of the outlying county supporting the downtown area. The Democratic plan to redistribute the wealth from the suburbs to the cities continues right here in Augusta, GA. All those motels around I-20 and 520 are sending THEIR motel tax to Laney Walker because of the deal to build the TEE.

Subtract those events that have been here before using existing venues and the schedule is even more pathetic, but the money keeps flowing to feed the white elephant.

LL, I'm surprised they don't count those who go to church downtown as somehow related to the TEE Center being built.

Riverman1
70477
Points
Riverman1 08/05/12 - 05:36 am
4
0

Interesting they put an "N/A"

Interesting they put an "N/A" by the projected amount the tattoo crowd will spend on June 13, 2013. Heh.

Where did the previously announced HFW Distribution go? I looked it up and it's also known as Home Folks and is a little place off Riverwatch.

I've heard a guy who used to run a carwash downtown is in charge of finding events. If things don't work out maybe he can use his old pressure washers and clean up the Riverwalk and Broad St. for us to earn his salary? That would be doing something that actually helped.

corgimom
19200
Points
corgimom 08/05/12 - 05:34 am
4
0

So what are the groups that

So what are the groups that are "coming back" because they had grown so large, that they couldn't meet in Augusta before the TEE center?

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