Harlingen Convention Center boosts some rates

HARLINGEN — Six months after its opening, the Harlingen Convention Center is boosting some of its rental rates.

Earlier this week, city commissioners approved partner BC Lynd Hospitality’s request to increase some ballroom prices.

“The market can bear the rates,” Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said.

During a meeting, Jeff Hamel, the convention center’s general manager, asked city commissioners to increase the Great Kiskadee Ballroom’s rate from $5,500 to $6,000.

“All these prices are very marketable and comparable to what our competitors’ set is,” Hamel told commissioners, adding the convention center is competing against the South Padre Island Convention Centre, the McAllen Convention Center and Corpus Christi’s American Bank Center.

Based on Hamel’s request, commissioners also increased the Great Kiskadee Ballroom D/E’s rate from $1,500 to $2,500 and the Kingfisher and Oriole meeting rooms’ prices from $350 to $400 each.

Meanwhile, commissioners put the cost of renting the entire 44,000-square-foot convention center at $8,000 while setting the newly available Dove Suite’s rate at $200.

Big booking

During his presentation, Hamel said the convention center boosted last month’s projected revenues of $49,648 by $15,000.

This year, a big booking is expected to further drive up revenue.

Officials at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have decided to hold their graduation ceremonies at the convention center, Commissioner Victor Leal said.

“That’s great news,” Leal said.

Projected deficit

In September, BC Lynd projected the convention center to run a $202,389 deficit during its first full year of operation.

From October through September 2020, the Rio Grande Valley’s newest convention center is expected to generate $735,602 in revenue.

Meanwhile, expenditures are projected at $937,991.

But officials say they expected the convention center might run deficits during its first two years.

As part of an agreement, city officials have set aside $500,000 to cover any deficits during that so-called “ramp-up” period.

Hotel on its way

Officials are counting on BC Lynd’s hotel to boost the convention center’s revenues.

As part of an agreement, the city funded construction of the $16.7 million convention center while BC Lynd builds an attached upscale hotel.

Under the contract, BC Lynd is also operating the city-owned convention center.

Next to the facility, the $25 million, five-story Hilton Garden Inn is now entering its sixth month of construction.

Now, the 149-room hotel is expected to open in late July 2020, about a year behind schedule.

About a year ago, Brandon Raney, BC Lynd’s chief executive officer, said he had worked for 18 months to land the “right” financing plan to fund the project.