Two groups vie to run pavilion

Historic Manassas Inc., the local non-profit dedicated to promoting Old Town, is in danger of losing control of the Loy E. Harris Pavilion.

A special evaluation team made up of city staff and business owners reviewed proposals for more than four months and is recommending the management of the facility be turned over to Richmond-based Rink Management Inc.

The Manassas City Council will vote today on who should run the pavilion.

Completed more than a year ago as part of a $2 million city project, the 7,200-square-foot pavilion is an ice skating rink during the winter and a place for parties, receptions and other community events during the rest of the year.

In areas ranging from the completeness of proposals to experience, capabilities and skills, the city’s evaluation team found RMI to be superior to HMI. The annual amount RMI wants to run the pavilion — $179,500 — is 79 percent of the $228,123 HMI is proposing.

“They had a broader range of experience, more experience, the possibility of a broader range of sponsors,” said City Manager Lawrence Hughes. “And there was a cost of the service itself.”

Tricia Davis, HMI’s executive director, says the organization plans to pack the Monday council meeting with supporters. The council, she said, should recognize that HMI’s status as a local organization gives it a special advantage.

“It’s part of our mission to bring people downtown to entertain them,” she said. “We have the experience and the staff to do this.”

RMI manages 20 entertainment venues across the country. In many cases, the company, which was started in 1999, has worked directly with local governments, said Thomas Hillgrove, RMI president.

The pavilion, he said will benefit greatly from what RMI has to offer.

“We think it’s an excellent venture,” he said. “We think we have the skill and staff experience to reach out to the community and provide what the community wants.”

If awarded the contract, RMI will seek advice from people and organizations throughout the community, Hillgrove said. And HMI is included on the list.

“Any information we can gain from them we would certainly like to get,” he said.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 119.

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