Downtown News

Dallas hands off management of convention center to private company

Dallas hands off management of convention center to private company

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
Courtesy photo

Dallas has delegated management of its major convention center to a private company.

On February 13, the Dallas City Council approved a 5-year contract with Spectra Venue Management to manage the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, hoping to improve the client experience and increase revenue.

The convention center will remain city-owned and subject to city oversight. Spectra would be responsible for day-to-day event management, client services, custodial services, security, parking, food and beverages, and other services.

In a release, Dallas city manager T.C. Broadnax calls it "a big deal" for Dallas' tourism economy.

"Spectra brings a wealth of knowledge in managing other high revenue generating convention centers and facilities, and now they will bring their expertise here, improving Dallas’ standing as a convention and event destination," Broadnax says.

Spectra, which is an Atairos-owned and Comcast-backed events management and promotion company, will implement industry-standard best practices over an initial 45-day transition period.

Hopefully, the company will avoid costly lawsuits like the idiotic one that Dallas got itself involved with when it banned the Exxxotica porn convention from taking place at the center. For that, you can thank Mayor Mike Rawlings, and council members Adam McGough, Carolyn King Arnold, Casey Thomas, Erik Wilson, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Rick Callahan, and Tiffinni Young.

Spectra currently operates 174 facilities, including 45 convention centers and 56 arenas. Their ability to leverage these existing relationships and operational standards will benefit when it comes to negotiating contracts and pricing.

The company was also recently given the keys to manage Fair Park.

Overall responsibility for finances, contract management, and capital improvements will remain under the leadership of Rosa Fleming, Convention and Event Services Interim Director.

Fleming will also lead the creation of a convention center master plan that promotes public transportation and activates the entire convention center by creating outdoor spaces and "placemaking" that promote walkability and connectivity.

"We’re always looking for ways to improve the customer satisfaction and this masterplan connecting the convention center to world-class restaurants, arts and entertainment," Fleming says.