Albany searches for new Civic Center, Municipal Auditorium operator

Albany searches for new Civic Center, Municipal Auditorium operator
A bid is open through Friday (Source: WALB)
Small business owners said an increase in attendance would be beneficial (Source: WALB)
Small business owners said an increase in attendance would be beneficial (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Albany Civic Center may have a new operator soon.

The city is searching for a venue manager as event attendance drops and operation costs increase.

The bidding window first opened in October for a company to manage and market the civic center, Municipal Auditorium and Amphitheater downtown, but it closes Friday at 5 p.m.

Bid documents state the city is looking for a group that can lower costs and increase programming at the venues.

Over the last two fiscal years, attendance at the Albany Civic Center has decreased by more than 25 percent.

Overall attendance held steady, above 90,000 during the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years.

But in FY 2017, attendance fell to around 72,000 customers.

That drop includes a 22,000 person decrease in attendance at the civic center.

The overall operations have been in the red, at a loss of $1.5 million in FY 2016 and, even more, at $2.3 million in FY 2017.

City documents said the eventual goal is to turn things around and make the spaces self-sufficient.

Small business owners in the area said an increase in civic center attendance would also benefit them.

"Down here at Rabbitman, it increases our business because a lot of people are not aware that we're here," employee Elijah Williams said. "We're the only cobbler in a sixty-mile radius. So, we have a lot of folks come in that know we're here because they're going to be in over the weekend. They'll drop off their shoes, and other materials while they're in town for three or four days."

The venue management services contract would last for five years, with options to renew. Operators would also have the prospect of private management of the facilities.

City of Albany officials denied our request for an interview regarding the general search for a new management company or the importance of the civic center to the local economy.

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