There is sufficient demand for build a conference center in downtown Muskegon, Mich., according to a study presented Nov. 6.Paid for by Muskegon County, the $44,500 study was presented to Muskegon County Commissioners and members of the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee.
Bill Krueger of Conventions, Sports & Leisure International believed the survey of professional meeting planners, along with an analysis of competing convention centers in Michigan and comparison to cities of similar size, is evidence of enough support for a convention center.
Approximately 55 percent of those surveyed within a four-hour drive would consider using Muskegon as a location for their event, although 89 percent had not done so in the past.
A survey participant commented on the desire to “have another option besides Grand Rapids,” according to Krueger.
In 2002, a similar study was conducted through CSL in which only 36 percent of planners would consider Muskegon as a location.
Since the initial survey, an estimated $200 million has been invested in downtown Muskegon including 15 new buildings and 22 renovations. In conjunction with the survey findings, possible building sites, potential facility size and proposed facility operation were presented.
Krueger recommended a built adjoining to either the Holiday Inn or the Shoreline Inn as downtown hotels play a vital part of any convention center considered in Downtown Muskegon. Doing so would eliminate the trouble of attendees enduring inclement weather in West Michigan.
Among Krueger’s suggestions were a publically owned and operated facility based on an estimate of $24 million to build and $1.5 million to maintain per year. A convention center would likely benefit the county’s economy by $17 million in terms of dollars spent by visitors from outside of the area.
Another suggestion, according to Krueger, would be a smaller facility owned by the county and operated by a private entity under a lease, costing $15 million to build and $600,000 to maintain, but bringing in $10.6 million in economic impact.
“I think that both of these have merit,” Krueger said.
Along with a convention center build, an upgrade to L.C. Walker Arena and Holiday Inn hotel were also suggested to be marketed as a premium brand.
“This feasibility study was to show what the possibilities would be for building a convention center in Muskegon,” said Len Piasecki, committee chairman, Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee. “We wanted to get this presentation out so that the general public understands the significance of it.”