12,000 people take in new convention center

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer 02/04/2014

Starting with Friday night’s dinner gala and ending with Sunday night’s Super Bowl party, an estimated 12,000 people visited the Owensboro Convention Center during its grand opening weekend, Dean Dennis, the building’s general manager, said Monday.

After a nearly nonstop weekend, Dennis was back at work Monday, going through his notes with other Global Spectrum vice presidents that attended the weekend events. Global Spectrum is the company hired by the city of Owensboro to manage the public building.

With few exceptions, the new facility and its staff handled the big crowd well, Dennis said. More debriefing and note comparisons will be done on Wednesday morning with all staff involved, he said. A few things were being “tweaked” Monday ahead of Monday night’s Green River Area Development District annual dinner.

“From our perspective, I think everything exceeded our expectations,” Dennis said.

“We had a little something for everyone over the weekend and we came away feeling very proud to be a part of this new venue.”

A formal dinner for 2,100 put the food service staff to the test.

“Overall the food and beverage folks were outstanding,” Dennis said. “Venue services (and) event staff did a great job. There was lots of positive feedback on our employees and their hospitality. We had only minor issues that really no one from the public would even know about and we worked through those and will continue to do so.”

The building, 169,000- square-feet and packed with modern features, performed as it should, Dennis said.

“We have more training in store as we get more comfortable in the building,” he said. “All systems worked very well. (There were) some issues with the escalators and their safety settings, and a flicker in the ballroom lights, but we were quite pleased with all our mechanical systems throughout the weekend. There is still some work to be done with Denark (Construction) to fully transfer

the building from a “project to a place” and we will be working with them over the next several weeks on those issues.”
Last week, Dennis said Denark would be working for several weeks on a “punch list” of final items to be done to the building before it is rendered completely finished.

Dennis said attendance for the weekend events was 2,100 for the gala and Sara Evans concert, 9,000 for Saturday’s ribbon cutting, day-long open house and evening concerts by Marty Brown and The Willis Clan, and about another 750 people on Sunday for brunch, the blessing of the building and the Super Bowl viewing party.

“I do want to offer my sincere appreciation and thank you to all of our team,” Dennis said. “They worked long, long hours in making this past weekend a success. I thank each and every one of them and their patient spouses for a job well done. Additional thanks to the great city staff, our partners, sponsors, contractors and all who made it happen.”

City Manager Bill Parrish hailed the grand opening weekend a success.
“The weekend was a great start to Owensboro’s re-entry into the convention business — remembering that the convention center is an economic engine for the community — I believe we are well prepared for future events and economic growth. We saw a beautiful building that functioned as planned, that provided a wow factor with scenic overlooks of the river and an awe inspiring entry way of massive volume and that impressed with a quality product. I did not hear anything but pride from our guests; the common theme was ‘I can’t believe this is Owensboro.’ ”

Parrish said he was most impressed with Global Spectrum’s attention to detail, from the quality of the food to hospitality and to the cleanliness of the facility.

“They set a standard that will draw business to this community,” Parrish said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with this weekend’s results.”

Steve Vied, 691-7297, svied@messenger-inquirer.com