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City, county spar over new Evansville arena management

New Evansville Arena{jathumbnail off}

A decision to hire VenuWorks as the manager of a new downtown Evansville arena has been delayed after county officials say they weren’t part of the decision-making process — but there are some agendas at play as well.

The Arena Management Interview Committee decided on Friday to award the management deal for a new downtown arena to Ames, Iowa-based VenuWorks over SMG, the current manager of Roberts Stadium and Evansville Auditorium and Convention Centre. The decision was ripped yesterday by county officials, who complained both about being out of the loop and VenuWorks, saying it made no sense to have SMG manage one facility and VenuWorks the other.

Of course, they weren’t suggesting SMG step down as convention-center management or combine management of both facilities into one bid.

Still, there’s probably no ill side-effect to the recommendation: the county really doesn’t have a say in the matter. The only people really hurt in this are the VenuWorks folks; with a big convention for promoters and facilities coming up, they won’t be able to market the new Evansville arena.

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