County moves forward on events center contract

File photo Global Spectrum was awarded a two-year contract Sept. 1 to manage the new events center and the fairgrounds.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Event management specialists Global Spectrum will save Curry County about $150,000 a year operating the special events center and fairgrounds, County Finance Manager Mark Lansford told commissioners Tuesday.

Lansford’s projection was part of a special commissioner’s meeting to approve the county’s Infrastructure and Capital Outlay Plan.

Transferring money to Global Spectrum for its operating budget was among other items addressed.

“They are experts in this and they do this all the time,” Lansford said.

“(And) their revenue stream is a little more than ours would have been.”

Lansford estimated costs for the county to run the special events center and fairgrounds at about $600,000. Global Spectrum is estimating costs of around $445,000.

Commissioners granted Global Spectrum a two-year contract Sept. 1, handing over management of the new events center and the fairgrounds. Prior to Sept. 1, Global Spectrum had managed the events center under a short-term contract.

Both facilities were run by county administration in the past.

Global Spectrum will manage not only events and budgets for the facilities, but staff, taking on existing staff that were there previous to the change.

Global Spectrum is estimating an annual loss. This calendar year the budget consists of operation costs around $337,000 with an additional $108,000 management fee.

County officials have said they were braced for a loss the first five years the facility is getting established.

Kevin Jolley, Global Spectrum’s manager, said estimates are conservative.

“There’s always room for improvement and my goal is to beat that budget,” he said.

Global Spectrum officials vowed to maintain county fair traditions and said they believe the arrangement ideal because there is a lot of crossover between the two facilities.

The $7 million, 96,000 square-foot events center is directly west of the fairgrounds.

During the 2009 county fair, concerts were hosted a the facility while the midway and other fair events were held in their traditional locations at the fairgrounds.

Commissioners also:

• Approved a $56.11 million Infrastructure and Capital Outlay Plan from 2011 to 2015.

The county will request state money to pay for the top five items on the list — road projects; adult and juvenile detention center improvements; road equipment and vehicles; Curry County Fairgrounds and Special Events Center improvements; and courthouse improvements.

• Approved a $26,000 redesign of the county’s computer servers. The change will include creating a virtual server as part of the county’s emergency planning — protecting vital computer information data in the event of a catastrophic event.