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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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City administrator recommends merging tourism, civic center operations

City administrator recommends merging tourism, civic center operations

City Administrator Steve Rymer wants Rochester to combine its tourism bureau with Mayo Civic Center management to form a singular authority that would be responsible for all functions now performed by the two organizations.

Rymer said Friday that the recommendation is being made because the existing model is no longer financially sustainable. He is proposing the new Convention & Visitor Authority be formed in early 2019.

“It is important for the community to understand that the Mayo Civic Center and Experience Rochester teams work hard and are dedicated to the success of both organizations,” said Rymer. “This recommendation is not a reflection of their efforts. It is the current system that is not sustainable.”

For months, city administration has been working closely with the consulting group of Jones Lang LaSall to address a looming shortfall in revenue for the civic center, which only recently completed an $84 million renovation and expansion. The firm laid out a number of areas for improvement to the city council; among them, better coordination between tourism officials and Mayo Civic Center operations.

“It is going to take a rethink,” consultant Dan Fenton said of the future of civic center operations, according to an August report from the Post-Bulletin. Fenton also pointed to an analysis of the civic center’s schedule, which showed a major dip in bookings post-2019. “This is an indicator that we have problems,” he said.

Before making the recommendation, the city also worked with stakeholders from both the Experience Rochester board, formerly the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Mayo Civic Center Commission.

Rymer said if the council approves the move, the city and Experience Rochester will “work closely with employees from both organizations during the coming months as the transition to the new model is implemented.”

The transition would take about 12 to 14 months. The council is scheduled to take up the recommendation during a meeting on November 28.

Cover photo: File / Med City Beat

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