Letters to the Editor

'A new vision'

SMG does not normally respond to personal opinions expressed by uninformed individuals on the operations of facilities it manages. However, the inaccurate Lloyd Kennedy commentary Nov. 16 necessitates an exception.

In 2004, the City Council voted unanimously to award a management agreement to SMG, the world's largest private facility operator, for operation of the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center. The city facility required a new vision, a drive to succeed and most important, accountability; it could no longer operate based on business concepts and methods of the 1960s with disengaged management.

Unrealistic half-day rents, below-industry standard commission structures and archaic rental contracts were changed. The days of the convention center charging below-market rents, providing revenue streams to private businesses without the appropriate level of sharing with the taxpayers, paying events to come to our city and being exposed to unnecessary legal action are over; they ended in Fresno with SMG in 2004.

The city's business must be flexible, innovative and evolve with changes in the convention and entertainment industry. Repeating history will only lead to irrelevance. We are moving the convention center forward by professional presentation and representation in national markets. Fresno deserves nothing less.

William C. Overfelt

General Manager/SMG

Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center