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Augusta Commission discusses convention center's catering contract

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 8:29 PM
Last updated Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 9:59 PM
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The $7,000 monthly fee that Augusta will pay a firm to cater events at the new downtown convention center is nominal and less than the city pays another company to provide concessions at James Brown Arena, the Augusta Commission was told at a work session Wednesday.

The fee is part of a catering agreement that had thrown some commissioners off guard when it appeared in a package of documents that govern operations at Augusta Convention Center, also known as the TEE Center. Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles requested the work session on the document.

Commissioners and some taxpayers question where the city stands to make money in the deal, which places convention center management and convention catering into the hands of Augusta Riverfront LLC, a firm that shares management with Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The new agreements, originally an extension of a 50-year contract between Augusta Riverfront and the city to run the adjoining Augusta Marriott, changed radically when Augusta issued tax-exempt bonds to pay for construction.

Not only did the city’s Atlanta bond counsel insist on a shorter, 15-year term, Riverfront LLC President Paul Simon said, but lawyers also said the firm can’t make a profit. All profits or losses, including those from catering, will be the city’s, said Simon and Jim Plunkett, the special city outside counsel for the deal.

Losses at the center are almost certain, particularly in the center’s early years, Simon said.

“As I’ve said from day one, going back seven or eight years, this center is going to lose money” as convention centers in Savannah, Athens and Macon have, he said.

Instead, the city gains sales tax and other benefits from thousands of visitors attending conventions at the center, he said.

“We’re going to get a bang for our buck with the people coming to our city,” he said. “We get it back maybe two times in economic impact.”

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F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 10/10/12 - 09:09 pm
4
0
Said....
Unpublished

The spider to the fly...

dichotomy
34473
Points
dichotomy 10/11/12 - 08:39 am
5
0
"Losses at the center are

"Losses at the center are almost certain, particularly in the center’s early years, Simon said."

“As I’ve said from day one, going back seven or eight years, this center is going to lose money”

There is a couple of tidbits they didn't include on the ballot for the TEE Center SPLOST. Nor did they tell us about a 15 year sole source non-bid contract to pay someone to operate it and pay someone to cater it and pay someone to operate the parking deck and OH BY THE WAY all of those someones would be the same people. Folks, if you aren't feeling like having a cigarette right now you should be because you've just had sex. Expensive sex.

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 10/10/12 - 09:58 pm
6
0
And...
Unpublished

Not the consensual enjoyable kind either lol

willie7
984
Points
willie7 10/10/12 - 11:45 pm
4
0
The LLC Group seems to own
Unpublished

The LLC Group seems to own some of the commissioners. The have given them everything. This has made other hotel owners jealous and they want some goodies too..

single parent
395
Points
single parent 10/11/12 - 05:17 am
2
0
Wondering

What happened to the other hotel that was suppose to be built next to the Boat ramps? Why could we not get the NHRA race track? We should have one of the NFL or NBA teams, why did we not? Is it not funny how all of our minor league or semi pro teams run for cover after a couple of years or cannot wait for their contract to expire? Is it not funny how the same names are on all major projects in the county? I thought monopoly was not legal? We should take notes from N Augusta and Columbia county, neither have the need to come to us for our products. Can you say ghost town?

single parent
395
Points
single parent 10/11/12 - 05:23 am
4
0
PS

It is HOT in Augusta for the most part, why in Sam Hill is there no water park ( not something that can fit in my back yard) worth being at here? Even closed during the cold months that in revenue. No fishing tournament worth talking about, revenue. Look what kind of revenue the horse related events bring and the rowing. A new convention center but we cannot even handle First Friday? WOW!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/11/12 - 09:44 am
4
0
If there are profits to be made

Please explain to me what I am missing?

IF this latest grand plan to bring $$$ into downtown (besides raping the South Side, a Masters Garden, A ball stadium and etc..), was really going to be a profit making venture, then why are we having to pay anyone to do it?

Why aren't they bidding for the right to deliver the service?
Consider for a second Ball Stadium prices will look good, compared to what I have seen charges at some hotel conventions.
There is good profit to be made even hiring Temp Staff and purchasing goods ad hoc.

Do the vendors know something we don't?
Or, is this another Good Ole Boy Downtown Deal?

An , why can't these contract proposals be put up on the A-RC website for PUBLIC review?

Little Lamb
46981
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Little Lamb 10/11/12 - 08:16 am
3
0
Why?

Excuse me, but why, oh why, does the city need to get into any sort of catering contract? When an entity wishes to rent the center, they should pay rent. If they desire food, they should find their own caterer in the open market. Riverfront LLC should not be designated as the official caterer. There are all sorts of combinations, here.

Rent the TEE Center only and no food is involved – one fee.

Rent the TEE Center plus the kitchen – another fee.

Select your caterer – between the event holder and the caterer. Neither the city nor Riverfront is involved. There could be some kind of bond involved to cover damages the caterer might cause to the kitchen.

bdouglas
5398
Points
bdouglas 10/11/12 - 08:16 am
5
0
Shouldn't *caterers* be

Shouldn't *caterers* be paying for the privilege of being the sole provider of services for the facility rather than the other way around? Not only are they getting a competition-free area to work with, but they're getting PAID almost $85,000 a year to have that privilege? I don't get it...

Little Lamb
46981
Points
Little Lamb 10/11/12 - 08:53 am
5
0
Savannah Rapids Pavillion

A few years ago I gave a dinner party. I looked around town for venues and chose the Savannah Rapids Pavillion. They basically had two options at two different rental rates — one was for a room that included a kitchen for cooking on-site, and the other was for a room only (food to be brought in from outside).

Neither of these options forced the renter to be locked into one caterer such as Riverfront LLC.

This "deal" offered up by Paul Simon is poison for the city and its taxpayers. It is not only unnecessary. It is anti-competitive, thus un-American. There are dozens of catering companies in the CSRA. Riverfront LLC should not get exclusive rights with a taxpayer guarantee.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P.S. The selection of the caterer was left up to me. There was not an "official" caterer that Savannah Rapids Pavillion forced me to accept. What commissioners will fall for Riverfront LLC's pitch to be the only allowed caterer for the TEE?

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 10/11/12 - 10:00 am
5
0
Who?
Unpublished

has a dog in this hunt? Follow the money. Business as usual for Augusta. Like I said earlier...said the spider to the fly. The Mariott, Riverfront LLC come out smelling like a rose in this deal. Augusta taxpayers wind up smelling like 56 loop by the airport...AGAIN!

Dixieman
15999
Points
Dixieman 10/11/12 - 10:21 am
3
0
"Nominal"?

I would like to go to work for them for a nominal salary of $7.000.00 per month for doing -- for doing -- um --

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 10/11/12 - 06:14 pm
2
0
Bend Over

We have been GRUd again. We just can't win.

It is incredible what you read in this paper.

Little Lamb
46981
Points
Little Lamb 10/11/12 - 07:02 pm
1
0
Thumbs up, Tullie

I like your new word.

GRUd will likely appear again in these comment sections.

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