Roswell to temporarily close convention centre

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ROSWELL, N.M. — The Roswell Civic & Convention Center will temporarily close in April due to a lack of funding from low hotel occupancy caused by the coronavirus pandemic, city officials said.

Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb said Thursday during a city council meeting that the city will not budget for operations at the centre in its next fiscal year, which begins in July, the Roswell Daily Record reported.

Spectra, the company contracted to manage and staff the centre for about $8,000 a month, was informed on Jan. 20 about terminating the agreement as of April 20, Neeb said. The contract requires a 90-day notice for termination.

Public Affairs Director Juanita Jennings said on Friday that the decision to close the facility to events was not easy. She said the centre had booked more events last year than it ever had prior to the pandemic.

“It’s heartbreaking. We were doing so well at that facility before COVID. We took great strides to change the model, reset how we operate,” Jennings said.

In another development, the state on Saturday reported 571 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 180,289 cases and 3,516 cases.

Spectra reported the venue lost about $245,000 in revenue after 42 events booked at the centre were cancelled or postponed. But the closure of the facility is based mainly on hotel occupancy figures.

“The hotels are down about 35% capacity and they need to be over 75% capacity in order to generate the revenue that we need in order to keep everything operating that relies upon lodgers’ tax and the bed fee,” Neeb said. The centre is still expected to be used for City Council and committee meetings because those gatherings do not constitute convention centre activities.

Jennings said lodging businesses would have to reach and maintain between 60% to 70% occupancy, and mass gatherings restrictions must be lifted before the city considers reopening the convention centre .

If that happens, the city would look for a third party to manage the convention centre again, she said.

“One of the decisions that we’ve made, we know we want to have a third-party company manage the facility, like Spectra. Hopefully, they will be willing to be good partners with us again, and if not then maybe someone else,” Jennings said.

The Associated Press