Contract to operate Penticton arenas draws interest

Proponents interested in taking over contract with city tour South Okanagan Events Centre

While Global Spectrum’s initial contract to run the South Okanagan Events Centre was for a five-year term, the next contract may be double that.

The contract with Global Spectrum won’t be automatically renewed when it ends on Dec. 31. On March 7, the City of Penticton issued an RFP indicating that depending on value to the city, a 10-year contract would be considered.

Last week, proponents interested in taking on the contract took a tour of the facility.

“Some of the interested parties came out and we did a tour and then a Q&A so they could all hear the same questions and the same answers at the same time,” said city manager Annette Antoniak. “There were quite a few. Of course I can’t disclose who they are at this stage, but we were very impressed with the turnout.”

Antoniak did say that the RFP is drawing interest from throughout North America and that the proponents on the tour were universally impressed with the facility.

“From my experience with facilities, having run them before as well as having done a bit of research prior to the RFP going out — we visited some facilities of the same size — ours is absolutely superb,” said Antoniak. “It was very well designed and built. Those were the overwhelming comments we were getting.”

The RFP process closes on April 30 and Antoniak doesn’t expect to see any proposals turned in until close to that date.

“Generally they come in the final week and surprisingly, a lot of them come in the last day. It’s just the nature of what it is and the work that goes into them,” said Antoniak.

The RFP covers the main 5,000-seat arena and the community rink as well as Memorial Arena and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, which altogether had an operating budget of $4.2 million last year.  According to the RFP, the city is seeking proposals to handle ticketing, marketing, food and beverage services as well as management of the complex, either as a package or for individual services.

Once the RFP process closes on April 30, the proposals will go to the city’s standing SOEC select committee. Antoniak said there is a lot of work to be done to evaluate proposals for such a large contract, but she hopes to see results quickly, possibly as early as June.

“It will be that committee that vets them, rates them and makes a recommendation to council,” said Antoniak “I think the work by that committee will be done very quickly because everyone recognizes that we want to get going and there is a lot of work to be done. If there happens to be a transition you have to take that into account, so it will be fairly quick.”