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EVENTS <br /> <br />Continued from Page One <br /> <br /> For visitors, that means space <br />for conference guests and afford- <br />ble stays, Easton smd. <br />~ The conference center, as pro- <br />posed, would exceed the capaci- <br />ty of existing area venues, Easton <br />said. The capacity for various <br />events would be as follows: <br /> · Conventions, devoting the <br />entire main hall ro a meeting: 650 <br />people. <br /> · Convention· with meals: <br /> <br />450 people. <br /> · Conventiens with exhibits: <br />400 to 450 people. <br /> s Consumer and trade <br />shows: 50 to 60 booths. <br /> · Banquets: 650 people. <br /> · Reception, theater-style <br />seating: 1,000 people. <br /> Consultants focused on the <br />presence of state government, and <br />state associations, to determine <br />some of the meeting demand. <br /> More than L000 large meet- <br />ings or conferences are held by <br />state associations each year, Eas- <br />ton said. <br /> <br />City sets deadlines for key <br />decisions in next 2 months <br /> <br /> BY DEANA POOLE <br /> THE OLYMPIAN <br /> <br /> OLYMPIA -- The design, <br />budget and operating approach <br />for the conference and arts center <br />are expected to be made final by <br />June 24. <br /> But there's much work to be <br />done between now and then. <br /> CiW Manager Dick Cushing on <br />Tuesday presented the council <br />with a two-month timetable for <br />approving various aspects of the <br />estimated $15 million project. The <br />work is divided into four key ar- <br />eas: schematic design, project <br />budget, the city's agreement with <br />developer VIP'S Industries Inc. <br />and the operating approach. <br /> The public will have a chance to <br />comment on the project details <br />during a public hearing June 10. <br /> Here's the schedule: <br /> · Schematic design: Two <br />open houses are set for Monday <br /> 2:30 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 9 p.m. <br />-- in the Phoenix Room of the <br />Phoenix Inn, 415 Capitol Way N. <br />The design options, which are <br />works in progress, will reflect cit- <br />izen input gathered earlier this <br />month. <br /> The council will discuss the <br />options in a study session at 7 <br />p.m. Tuesday. <br /> Architects will take feedback <br />from the public and the council <br />and revise the schematic design. <br />The council will then discuss the <br />updated designs in study session <br /> <br />June 3. Final approval is set for <br />June 24. <br /> · Project budget: Construc- <br />tion and operating costs will be <br />discussed by the council in study <br />session May 27, June 3 and June 12, <br />and will be up for final approval <br />June 24. <br /> · Agreement with VIP~3: The <br />city and developer VIP'S are en- <br />tering into a "turn-key agree- <br />ment.'' VIP'S will buy the land, <br />build the conference center and <br />then sell the project to the city. <br />The agreement outlining the costs <br />and details will be discussed in <br />executive session May 27, study <br />session June 12. and will be up for <br />final approval June 24. <br /> s Operating approach: The <br />marketing plan, booking of the <br />conference center and who will <br />manage the center will be dis- <br />cussed in study sessions May 20 <br />and 27, and will be up for final <br />approval June 24. <br /> <br /> As new meeting places are built <br />in Olympia, Tacoma and Lyn- <br />wood, each existing facility's share <br />of conferences may drop by about <br />7 percent. When meeting places in <br />those places plus Vancouver, Ken- <br />newick and C0wlitz County are <br />built, each facility's share might <br />decline by 15 percent. <br /> "So what we're doing is, we're <br />robbing what we already paid for <br />to pay for something else," Coun- <br />cilwoman Laura Ware said. <br /> "That's probably fair to say," <br />Easton replied. "We're looking at <br />this facility to create an econom- <br />ic impact in Olympia and <br />Thurston County." <br /> 'grad drawing down what we, <br />as taxpayers, paid for in Eastern <br />Washington," Ware said. <br /> Having people stay in Olympia <br />rather than go elsewhere means <br />that that something else -- <br />whether it's the surroundings, the <br />location or the cost -- attracted <br />them to the area~ Easton said later. <br /> Councilman Matthew Green is <br />not convinced the demand is there. <br /> <br />"I'm still waiting to be <br />wowed. Wow me," <br /> -- Councilwoman Laura Ware, <br /> on the conference center <br /> proposal <br /> <br /> "The best evidence that there is <br />not really enough demand, espe- <br />cially for more local meeting and <br />banquet rooms, is that no one in <br />the private sector will build this <br />themselves," Green said. "The ho- <br />tel owners and developer interests <br />support it, but only when it gets <br />millions of tax dollars in subsidy." <br /> The study conducted in 2000 <br />by Easton outlined the anaount of <br />revenue through taxes such as ho- <br />tel/motel and sales tax. The last <br />study estimated visitors would <br />spend about $6 million each year <br />in the region. <br /> Those figures will be updated <br />during the next month, along with <br />any potential operating deficit. <br /> "I'm still waiting to be wowed." <br />Ware said. "Wow me." <br /> <br /> <br />