A recent feasability study seems to be the impetus behind the city commission’s decision to review the structure of the convention and tourism committee along with the Convention and Visitors Bureau during Tuesday’s work session. The Fieldhouse development feasability study was funded by the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce against the advice of an advisory board consisting of many of the area’s hoteliers.
Chamber of Commerce Chairman Frank Beer said the study seemed to fit into the 2015 plan to develop more sporting venues for the area. Hilton Garden Inn General Manager Brad Everett disagreed saying the chamber went against the subject matter experts advice from the steering committee, and he believed it continues to be a trend for the chamber and CVB.
ICE CEO Randy O’Boyle disagreed, and said he thinks the commission shouldn’t try to “swat a fly with a sledgehammer”. O’Boyle said the whole issue lies with a few members of the steering committee getting their “nose bent out of shape” over what they perceive as their money. Commissioner Karen McCulloh praised the chamber and CVB for their efforts within the community, and didn’t believe the commission should meddle in an operation which has garnered so much sucess for the community.
Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Karen Hibbard highlighted some of those successes by pointing out the $1,029,565 dollars from the transient guest tax used by the CVB brought in $14,233,260 dollars to the community. Hibbard said that figure excluded sporting events and Country Stampede. Hibbard said the CVB also helped bring in more than 43 new groups to the area.
The Fieldhouse feasability study in question was funded from the transient guest tax revenues. Commissioner Wynn Butler said that is a problem, and wishes to add more oversight into the process to battle the perception that the deal with the development project was done under the table. Butler believes a change in the contract is needed to ensure proper practices are observed, and provide more insight into the operations.
Commissioner Usha Reddi said she believes the whole problem lies in communication, and that should be remedied if any changes are made to the composition of the citys contract with the chamber.
Mayor John Matta said he agrees with many of the commission that more oversight is needed, and added that the oversight should be provided by an independent entity. Mayor Matta said currently the only people reporting on the contractors are the contractors themselves, and while he appreciates their efforts there should be a change to provide more oversight.
The commission ordered city staff to study possible revisions to the contracts with the Chamber of Commerce and CVB to include the benefits of maintaining the status quo.