Venues vie to cash in on closure of expo center

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When the Phil Long Expo Center closed in October, many feared it would mean the loss of dozens of expositions and trade shows in the city.

Local event centers, hotels and other venues, however, are picking up shows that had gone to the center.

One of the more versatile local venues — the Norris-Penrose Event Center — has already grabbed a share.

The event center will host The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce’s annual Southern Colorado Business Expo on June 2.

Later in June, the center will host the Colorado Springs Kennel Club annual show, as well as the annual Holiday Food and Gift Festival in November.

General Manager Bill Miller said it is in negotiations with several other potential clients.

Another venue, the Colorado Springs World Arena, also has picked up some business.

General Manager Dorothea Lischick said the arena, where Colorado College hockey games are played, landed a gun and knife show in March and an auto show in April.

Hotels, meanwhile, are also doing what they can, including the Crowne Plaza Colorado Springs.

“We’re definitely going after the business,” said Tracey Hampton, director of sales and marketing.

The hotel has the second-largest ballroom in the city, 13,600 square feet, and it would like to add five to 10 trade shows or expositions a year.

The Phil Long center was the region’s largest indoor venue for trade shows, with 90,000 square feet of floor space. After it closed down late last year, the Springs Church bought the building, leaving a gap to fill for expositions.

So far, the biggest loss to the city was the Southern Colorado Golf Expo, which drew about 200 vendors and 3,000 attendees to the region each year. The golf expo organizers decided not to hold the event this year at all, saying they hope Colorado Springs will have a suitable venue by 2012.

There may well be such a venue by then.

In April, Miller and his crew at Norris-Penrose plan to add a concrete floor in the indoor arena, which offers 36,000 square feet and has high ceilings. They will also augment the lighting and electrical systems, doing the construction in between shows. With the expo center closed, the timing for expansion was ideal, Morris said.

“This town doesn’t have a convention center, and I think we can fill a niche,” Miller said.

He’s not worried about the competition, especially landlords who own large, vacant retail space and want to host expositions and trade shows.

“They will try it for a year or two,” but then give up, he said.

Norris-Penrose can be competitive, he said, because it has hundreds of parking spaces, and the electrical systems, restrooms, zoning specifications, forklifts and loading docks that are requisite for staging a large show.

“My staff and I have been doing this for years, we know what it takes to put on and host an event,” Miller said.

One Response to Venues vie to cash in on closure of expo center

  1. Mr. Biggs has over 10,000 square feet of event space, in house catering, ample parking and a professional event staff to ensure a sucessful expo, seminar, training session, or social occasion.

    We also have a 2200 square foot space for more intimate meetings.

    Plus we offer what no one else in town can… fun activites like Go-Karts and bowling for your guests and participants to enjoy pre or post event.

    Jane Aiello
    January 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm