LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Lake Charles residents gathered at City Hall today to voice their opinions on the future of the Civic Center. The Civic Center could soon be under private management.
“I realize there are a lot of emotions connected to the Lake Charles Civic Center. The Civic Center has been, and will continue to be a major economic and cultural engine for our area," says Mayor Nic Hunter, "I also believe that if there may be a more efficient way of delivering a service, it is my responsibility as mayor to explore that option.”
Lake Charles says over the past five years, the Civic Center has generated $2 million per year from rentals, food and drink concessions, and a state sales tax subsidy...but has cost the city an average of $2.6 million per year.
The city says they have been looking at contracting with private company to manage the Civic Center, considering ASM Global to do the job.
On Thursday night, they held a public meeting for Lake Charles residents to voice their opinions.
Mayor Nic Hunter addressed the concerns of outsourcing or hiring new staff. He claims that all the current employees at the Civic Center under city payroll would not lose their jobs if the management changed.
Teddy Nall from Full Throttle Wrestling brought to light many great points about outsourcing caterers. He says that, “for concessions they’ve been gracious enough to let us let non-profit organizations sell concessions, they keep everything. I want to make sure that we’ll still have that liberty cause it has been part of the city.”
Many were excited for the possibility of becoming competitive with nearby cities while others wanted to make sure competition wasn’t going to encroach on local events, like Live AT the Lakefront and others.
“Those three weekends that we have in March are our single largest fundraising for the non profit that we have, will consideration be given for your guys booking other acts at the facility that could possibly take away," was asked by James Guilbeaux Jr..
Thorton immediately responded to the concern, “We wouldn’t do anything to compete with you. In fact, if you wanted us to help you book your acts...”
ASM Global did address questions about nearby venues they have managed that didn’t work out, saying the Civic Center is a different venue compared to them, and that they are excited to potentially partner with the city.
Doug Thorton, ASM Global Executive Vice President, explained why those properties did not expand as they were expected to do. He ended the explanation with, “I don’t think your conditions are the same as any of those actually.”
The City says there is not a timeline of when or if it will be placed on the City Council Agenda.