City mulls weekday, weekend convention center rates

HARLINGEN — City commissioners want to look into weekday and weekend rental rates for the $16.7 million convention center.

Last night, commissioners postponed action on proposed rental rates to request a consultant review weekday and weekend rates.

The city will pay HVS Hospitality between $7,500 to $8,000 to consider proposing the additional rates, City Manager Dan Serna said.

“We feel we need to explore them further,” Serna said of the proposed rates after the meeting.

Serna said commissioners requested the city consider the additional rates.

“I have received some input from commissioners,” Serna said before the audience at City Hall.

Serna said the consultant is expected to present his recommendations next month.

HVS Hospitality has worked on the project to build the 44,436-square-foot convention center, conducting its feasibility study.

Earlier this week, Brandon Raney, chief executive officer for San Antonio-based BC Lynd Hospitality, proposed the convention center’s rental rates.

The proposed rates appear to make the convention center competitive with event venues in McAllen, Brownsville and South Padre Island.

Mayor Chris Boswell has described the rates as “comparable” with the McAllen Convention Center while slightly pricier than conference venues in Brownsville and the Island.

The proposed rates would offer different prices for the convention center’s main ball room, smaller meeting rooms and outdoor pavilion.

According to the proposed rate schedule, the convention center’s 16,200-square-foot ballroom would rent from $5,670 a day, while its smaller meeting rooms would offer daily rates ranging from $175 to $500.

Meanwhile, the facility’s outdoor pavilion would rent for $1,500 a day.

The city needs to set the rates to launch its marketing program aimed at promoting the convention center, officials have said.

Serna, who has said the convention center is expected to open around January 2019, has said the city needs to start promoting the convention center because events are booked a year or more in advance.

The city plans to present its rates on “rack cards” which would be sent to convention planners, Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez has said.

Gonzalez said the city plans to use the convention center’s site plan to outline the building’s dimensions.

As part of an agreement, BC Lynd will operate and staff the convention center, splitting any profits with the city.