SMG will take over operations at the Las Cruces Convention Center in New Mexico, pending City Council approval. (Courtesy Las Cruces Convention Center)

Council to vote on firm’s taking over management of N.M. convention center

Las Cruces, N.M., has chosen SMG over incumbent Spectra to manage the Las Cruces Convention Center, a city spokesman said.

“While the decision to replace SMG for Spectra has been made, it still needs to be ratified by the Las Cruces City Council before made official,” said Udell Vigil, Las Cruces’ public information officer. “At the moment it’s still a recommendation to the City Council that SMG be hired. There is no official contract until they sign off, but it would be highly unusual for the City Council to reject the recommendation to hire SMG.”

It was not known when the council vote would take place.

Spectra has been at the convention center since January 2011, when the facility opened.

By September 2017, the city was concerned by the marketing of and bookings at the convention center and by the level of communication between the company and the city, according to public records.

At that time, the city contracted Spectra for an additional 10 months and advised the management firm that it would explore the possibility of recommending the job being sent to the RFP process. It did so several months later, and Spectra was among the firms that responded.

Udell said the city had no comment on why the city chose SMG’s proposal.

Kathleen McAlpine, Spectra’s general manager at the convention center, said she had not been made aware of a decision.

“As far as I know, Spectra is still the managing the building. We have not been informed of any change,” McAlpine said.

The management switch would come as a $5 million renovation of the facility nears completion. It will add 17,000 square feet of meeting space, improve the exhibition hall, add new breakout meeting rooms and expand the lobby and reception area and support space. The expansion is expected to be complete by this summer.