Examining the Victoria Community Center
July 10, 2011 at 2:10 a.m.
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Much talk in recent months hinged on whether Victoria is the right fit for a convention center and hotel.
Those leery of such a development point to the Victoria Community Center, a building they say ably meets big-group needs.
A February 2010 study, conducted by analysts from Austin's Avalanche Consulting, says otherwise. The study, commissioned by the city council, suggests significant alterations to the community center.
So while Victoria awaits the results of a separate study to determine the feasibility of a convention center and hotel, the Advocate examines the city's community center, the competition and avenues for change.
As the names suggest, community centers aim to meet the needs of its community. Convention centers generally cater to visiting groups.
Location: Intersection of North and Ben Wilson streets
Owner and operator: City of Victoria
Dome: 12,305 square feet; 1,200 standing capacity
Annex: 7,729 square feet; 500 seating capacity
Arena: 46,641 square feet; 1,625 seating capacity.
Grounds: 1,500 parking spaces
Booked 79 events in 2009.
Private: 24 percent
Public: 23 percent
Professional: 18 percent
Trade show: 12 percent
Livestock: 9 percent
Youth: 6 percent
Entertainment: 4 percent
Sports/auto: 4 percent
Financial data from 2008, most complete year available at time of study.
Operating budget: $470,591
Retail spending by 6,467 out-of-county visitors: $226,000
Hotel spending: $96,000
Indirect, ripple effects: $375,800
Because out-of-county visitors help centers generate greatest economic effect, convention space and nearby hotel are key. Convention space, in square feet, of community centers in similar Texas markets:
San Angelo: 19,000
Wichita Falls: 57,141
Analysts studied four renovation, expansion scenarios. To get best bang for buck, they suggest:
Maintain current center configuration, add covered pavilion building plus indoor exhibit hall and event building.
Alterations would increase yearly economic injection to $3.25 million - from $1.2 million in current form.
While council approved minor cosmetic upgrades to the center - such as replacing old room dividers - it does not appear major rehab work will occur. The center serves its local purpose well, Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong said. Many people predict the city will be home soon to a separate hotel and convention center or conference center, thus nullifying the need for major community center upgrades.