Saratoga Springs’ renovated City Center is on track for a record number of events for 2011 and on pace to hit the goals for growth laid out in 2009.
City Center President and Executive Director Mark Baker told the City Council Tuesday night, “2011 projected year-end, we will have 133 events in the facility.”
This year’s total will represent a 23 percent increase in events compared with 2010 and the number of days occupied increased about 20 percent, with the center scheduled to be filled for 206.5 days. Baker credited much of the growth to the $16 million renovation completed this year. He said it helped the facility attract 38 new events, including five weddings.
“All of those 38 have been possible due to the expansion of the building and the flexibility that gives us,” he said.
Baker was speaking to the council as part of his budget presentation, which called for a 2.6 percent reduction to $1,646,656. The center’s budget comes from the revenue it generates. It is predicted that earned revenues will increase by 2.4 percent and rentals will go up 2.1 percent. The center saw its labor costs go up 3 percent in the proposed budget, but also saw its building insurance spending drop 13 percent as the result of competitive bidding.
The future for the City Center is bright, according to Baker, who believes it will be occupied for 231.75 days in 2012. He noted that this is about a 65 percent occupancy rate and said: “In the hospitality industry if you’re at 67 percent occupancy they tell you it’s time to build. We just did that.” He added that the center hasn’t typically tried to compete for business in July and August, so those two months were discounted from the yearly statistics, the facility would have almost an 80 percent occupancy rate.
Baker stressed that much of the new business comes from corporate functions and said he believes this will be a growth area. He said that conventions and corporate events are increasing and have a greater impact on the community than some of the events more commonly booked in the past. The difference is that the new types of events fill hotel rooms and ensure that city hotels and businesses are busy beyond July and August.
“The growth has been in these middle to smaller corporate high-end groups that are here for 21⁄2 to three days, and they’re staying in town,” Baker said. He predicted that this new model would bring more than 100,000 guests to the city and generate well over $22 million in spending.
He said that the few corporate functions the city had in the past were at the Gideon Putnam, but that was only a seasonal operation for the most part.
When the feasibility study was done in 2009 it was determined that the center’s new size should generate a 40 percent increase in business over three years. Citing the growth in 2011 and the projection for 2012, Baker said: “We’re almost going to be there in two years.”
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