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Convention center opening celebrated

From left, Juanita Jennings, Mayor Dennis Kintigh, City Councilor Steve Henderson, Councilor Jeanine Corn Best and Councilor Angela Moore take advantage of a photo opportunity at the reopening of the Roswell Convention & Civic Center on Tuesday. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Mayor Kintigh says facility will bring ‘a new level of service’ and ‘experience’

A formal ribbon cutting was held to mark the re-opening of Roswell Convention & Civic Center after its 15,000-square-foot expansion.

Representatives from the city of Roswell, Albuquerque-based architect firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, and HB Construction, and Spectra, the convention center’s management company shared brief speeches on Tuesday afternoon. Following this, the ribbon cutting was held in the Roswell City Council’s new chamber with councilors, Roswell Chamber of Commerce’s Red Coats and city staff present.

“Twenty-five years ago, this city embarked on construction of a convention center,” Kintigh said. “And then, two and half years ago, we embarked on a remodel, rebuild — repurposed of that convention center. This is an incredible project with challenges, but with great, great accomplishments.”

Originally, the goal was to have the convention center open for the New Mexico Municipal League’s annual conference in August but delays were announced throughout the year. The conference was hosted in the completed areas. Earlier dates such as June 2018 were considered prior to construction.

Kintigh said he was proud of work done by the city of Roswell, the architects and HB construction. Additionally, he said he was proud of the courage and commitment from the governing body to “invest in the future of Roswell.”

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“We’re not just celebrating the change of building,” Kintigh said. “We’re marking the change of an experience, something that Roswell hasn’t had before. We’re not just talking brick and mortar. We’re talking about a level of excellence and service, a level of excellence in experience, so that this becomes something that people will talk about, not just here, not just this state, but across the nation.”

Kevin Kofchur, who served as project manager on the architecture side, said he was “proud and honored to be a part of the project” and he thanked Kevin Dillon, facilities and maintenance director, City Engineer Louis Najar and the builder. Saying the “facility speaks for itself,” Kofchur said the convention center will stand out regionally and statewide.

Cameron Treme, the construction project manager, said despite experiencing unknowns during construction, that he was “happy to bring a vision to life” and hopes the city and Spectra will enjoy the facility.

Tom McDonnell, Spectra’s vice president of business development, commended the city for a “great job in putting this plan in place to have this world-class facility come to the city of Roswell.”

Kenny Valenzuela, general manager of the convention center, thanked Mayor Kintigh, City Manager Joe Neeb and Juanita Jennings, director of public affairs. Valenzuela was previously manager at the Las Cruces Convention Center and shared a personal anecdote that he was “envious” of the future manager of the RCCC “because of the potential of the community.” Valenzuela thanked the city for the “opportunity to manage this wonderful asset.”

“I think the city has found a really great company to bring the level of experience up to serve the community as well as other people that are coming to our community,” Jennings said. “And so — I hope that our community will embrace them and really come have an event here … I really hope that they just try it out and see what the level of service is because it is quite different.

“I think just walking in tonight, you will notice that and I think a lot of people, they get so fearful of change, but change here is really good and you can see it in just the beauty of the building. You can see it in the staff and how professional they are and the level of service that they will bring.”

Addressing some misconceptions, Jennings said Spectra is “willing to work with any budget” for events. Jennings also said Spectra doesn’t get profits from anything from the facility, since food and beverage, and rental fees go back into the facility’s operational budget. Spectra’s monthly management fee is $8,000 per month, Jennings said.

As of now, Jennings said Spectra has booked 56 new events booked for the first time in Roswell, while serving the community and bringing new people to Roswell.

“This project was a big relief to be done,” Dillon said. “It’s been a pretty big challege to get through this whole project. Out of all the projects I’ve done, this one’s probably one of the toughest.”

In dealing with unanticipated structural issues and finding an oil tank, Dillon said it was a “long road to get here” and that he hopes the facility is enjoyed by the community.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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