New convention center manager

Posted by Kevin Valine on May 22, 2013 

— Modesto has hired a new manager to run its downtown convention center, which in recent years has required hefty subsidies from the city’s general fund as booking revenues have fallen.

Geoff Hinds, 33, started this month as Centre Plaza manager. He is a graduate of Whittier College in Southern California, where he studied international business and political science, according to the city. His salary is $83,054.

He was the chief executive officer of the Tulare County Fair and had worked there since 2008. Before that, the city said he was the fair and festivals manager at the San Mateo County Fair.

In an email, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Director Julie Hannon wrote:

“The city is excited to have Geoff on board and believes his diverse experience with other venues, business background and track record of increasing revenues at both the Tulare Country Fair and San Mateo County Fair will be extremely helpful in tackling the challenges facing the Modesto Centre Plaza.”

Centre Plaza was the centerpiece of Modesto’s downtown revitalization when it was built in the late 1980s. Last year, it held 295 events, such as trade shows, business meetings, concerts and weddings.

But in recent years, operating the center has required an annual subsidy of several hundred thousand dollars from the city’s general fund as booking revenues have fallen. Last year, the council directed staff to reduce the subsidy.

The roughly $105 million general fund is under stress because its revenues have fallen in the recession while its expenses have continued to rise.

The city has reorganized center operations, including shuffling some of its employees. When city officials decided to hire a new manager this year, they said they wanted someone who could market the center to increase business.

The city’s preliminary budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which starts July 1, shows the center bringing in $744,000 in revenues against $1.217 million in expenses for a shortfall of $473,000.

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