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A request for information about promotion, operation and management of the Equestrian Center was issued last week. A request for proposal for the Westside facility is likely to follow the Oct. 4 information submission deadline.
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City issues information request for Equestrian Center

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

The City has released a request for information for vendors and qualified stakeholders to submit ideas on how to promote, operate and manage the Equestrian Center on the Westside.

This includes required caretaker and maintenance services.

SMG has been the operating manager of the facility since it opened in 2004.

The center was also a part of the facilities management contract originally presented in a request for proposal earlier this year before City officials decided in mid-August to potentially extract it for a standalone contract. If pulled, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, EverBank Field, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, Osborn Center and Ritz Theatre will be the remaining City-owned facilities still in the contract.

Global Spectrum and SMG are the two remaining candidates for that contract and await Mayor Alvin Brown’s decision on a provider before negotiations can begin.

The Equestrian Center could still be part of that contract should the City not find acceptable ideas and proposals from the request for information, Procurement Division Chief Greg Pease said in August.

Under a background information section, the venue is stated as being used primarily as an equestrian center, but also lists mud runs, dog shows, rodeo events like bull riding, team roping and barrels, and equine breed as other events hosted.

The request also details the current environment of the center in terms of buildings and components.

According to the request, the City is looking for ideas, options and funding methods, but specifically lists the areas of interest as:

• promotion and marketing locally, regionally and nationally

• day-to-day management and operations

• maintenance

• security

• food, beverage and concession services

• ticketing and box office services

• an emergency preparedness plan for facility and local residents that might need emergency overnight service for equines

• partnership with a nonprofit organization

• future vision of complex utilization

Vendors responding will provide, among other information, what specific services they would provide and value achieved; past experience in providing such services; how they would allow individuals to use the complex; emerging innovations in the industry; and examples of progressive equestrian programs.

Pease said Wednesday that the request was sent to about 20 different groups and organizations, in addition to being available to the public since last week, and he is looking forward to seeing ideas come in.

A request for proposal, in which interested vendors and stakeholders can submit their bids to a City-issued request, will be available to the public shortly after the request for information period ends.

All responses to the request for information are due by 4 p.m. Oct 4.

The facility has been a contentious subject during budget hearings the past couple of years. It was spared scrutiny from the City Council Finance Committee this year after Council member Doyle Carter, who represents the center’s district, pledged to find a solution last year but has been slowed by the center not being independent from the facilities management contract.

The Council approved an emergency resolution April 10 requesting the center be pulled from the contract.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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