Projections made in advisory reports for a planned renovation of the memorial hall are being reviewed by a finance committee that will report to Joplin City Council.
Following a recommendation for a multi-purpose renovation of the hall worth $ 25 million, the council asked the finance committee to review the financial assumptions made by the consultants.
City manager Nick Edwards said at a meeting of the committee Thursday that city officials want to know if the revenue estimates are realistic. He told the group, made up of local finance professionals, that their opinion could instill confidence in the concept of the renovation of the hall.
City documents indicate that issuing bonds for the cost of the renovation project could be a way to pay for the project. In this case, a source of income would need to be identified in order to make the loan payments. This could lead to a proposal to raise property taxes that voters would have to approve.
The members of the committee received reports on the operation of the former Joplin Convention and Trade Center, 3535 Hammons Blvd.
Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the commercial center and the neighboring Holiday Inn hotel, which previously operated at 3615 N. Range Line Road, are the largest meeting and exhibition spaces in Joplin.
An attempt by a Florida developer to rehabilitate the former Holiday Inn failed four years ago.
A renovated memorial hall could provide space for smaller conferences, as well as trade shows and exhibitions, but not the size of events that once took place in the commercial center and hotel site, Tuttle said. He said a marketer could be hired to book the venue or the city could make the booking.
The city would need to identify the types of events that might be appropriate for the spaces available. Years ago the Kansas City Symphony performed here. One possible source for performance bookings is marketing to promoters who stage shows in the Midwest so that Joplin can be a stopover on a concert tour or other tours.
Larger conventions now require a conference center as well as smaller conference rooms, a restaurant and a hotel in one area, Tuttle said. However, the proposed renovation of the hall provides flexibility in spaces that can accommodate many functions such as small conferences or board meetings, concerts and other performances, meeting groups, weddings and recreational programs for the city’s park department.
The city’s employees were asked how much revenue they could generate if the building were renovated and used for events, as in recent years.
Finance director Leslie Haase said that’s about $ 100,000 a year.
Committee member Russ Alcorn asked if the hall would have to generate $ 700,000 in revenue to support the operation of the hall if it were marketed and used on a regular basis. He said the figures presented by the committee were not detailed enough to allow any conclusions to be drawn. He wanted comparative figures from companies in other cities that could generate income similar to that proposed for the hall.
Haase announced to the committee that the advisors are providing these figures and that they will be available to committee members next week.
Paul Bloomberg, park director, said the advisors’ numbers were realistic estimates of revenue for him.
Committee members include Alcorn, Tom Franz, Brandon Davis, Mark Hensley and Andy Perigo, as well as city administrator and city councilor Phil Stinnett.