Hotel project spurs more convention discussion

Hotel project spurs more convention discussion
Horseshoe Competition
Horseshoe Competition

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - On September 5 Wichita Falls was awarded three future conventions. They include the North Texas Nonprofit and Business Summit, the U.S. Quidditch Southwest Regional Championships, and the Ink Masters Tattoo Expo.

Those events increase the number to five since June, after the city landed the National Horseshoe Competition, and the Texas Six Man Football Association announced they would continue their expo in Wichita Falls for the next five years.

There are many different reasons for the spike, but the biggest might be the possibility of a new full-service hotel and conference center next to the MPEC.

"The sky's the limit on the number of events that we could bid on because it is the trend," Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lindsay Barker said. "It's the industry trend that you see. These groups want a hotel right on-site within walking distance of the meeting space."

The ground has not been broken on the project, but just the chatter of it has people interested.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau has been including in their bid packets the city's plans for a full-service hotel and convention center. Conventions all around the region are now noticing.

"The exciting thing about these three events is that they are all so different and so unique," Barker said. "They can appeal to a different interest for residents. And they're three events that have never been here before."

Barker said just in 2016 Wichita Falls could not apply for conventions that would have brought 22,000 people, filled 19,000 hotel rooms, and brought in over $27 million because of no hotel on-site.

"If it comes down to an event whose trying to decide between a location with or without one, unfortunately sometimes that puts us at a loss," she said.

Despite the increase, some Wichitan's are still against the hotel project.

On the Newschannel 6 Facebook page, Christina Abel-Sinclair wrote it's a waste of money and she would like to see the city do something with the empty hotels to beautify the Falls.

Monte Duwe said he does not see the point of another hotel when so many sit empty 10 of the 12 months.

Barker wants to remind people of what these conventions mean for the city.

"That money ultimately cycles back into our local economy," Barker said. "With all of these events, they are staying in our hotels, they are eating in our restaurants, they are shopping in our stores."

Barker said the community support for events has been very strong, and the conventions notice that as well.

She said the Quidditch Association told them they were excited about the local support, and the Texas Six Man Football Association came back because they feel wanted by the community.

She added there are so many organizations that host events, and the staff is trying to bring as many different events as possible to Wichita Falls so there is something for everyone.

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