Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 | 4:45 p.m.
Bookings at the Henderson Convention Center have nearly returned to normal after a remodeling of the facility due to begin in September was delayed due to budget constraints.
The city had stopped taking reservations for use of the Convention Center, 200 Water St., in anticipation of beginning construction last fall. Once the work was put on a back burner, officials began to scramble to book guests and are predicting that numbers will return to normal levels in April.
“Now the message is getting out there that the facility is open,” said Rob Brisendine, operations director for the Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism. “We’re starting to see a lot of clientele come back into the facility.”
Annually, the Convention Center averages 840 activities, bringing in 60 to 70 events each month and 260,000 people a year. Those numbers fell to 30 to 35 a month beginning last September, Brisendine said, but are on pace to reach at least 55 in March. He credited the outreach campaign for a quick rebound and for obtaining the limited number of bookings the facility had during the past few months.
“Typically a meeting planner doesn’t plan three months in advance,” Brisendine said. “Typically all of our rentals are booked six months and out.”
While other convention centers may be witnessing a downturn in business, Brisendine said, Henderson may not meet the same fate.
“It’s one of, if not the most, affordable offering in the area,” he said. “We can position that cost-effective location for businesses that are going through an economic struggle right now.”
The venue offers 13,000 square feet of indoor space, 70,000 feet outdoors as well as a 2,500 seat pavilion. Most recently, the city booked In-N-Out Burger’s regional meeting — an event usually held on The Strip, Brisendine said.
“A lot of times special events or meetings are one of the first things that cease in a struggling economy,” he said. “When groups are looking for affordability, we pop up first to them.”
He expects to offer that affordability for the next two years. The city’s Capital Improvement Committee is not expected to re-evaluate the Convention Center overhaul until fiscal year 2010, and he thought it would take another year for construction to begin again.
Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or [email protected].