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Bowling Green Accepting Offers to Purchase Convention Center

City of Bowling Green

The city of Bowling Green may be exiting the convention center business.  City commissioners have voted to consider selling the Sloan Convention Center to a private company. 

The city commission on Tuesday agreed to issue requests for proposals as it looks to the private sector to possibly purchase and operate the venue.  The bonds used to construct the center were paid off late last year.  Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says local government is better suited for public protection and other services as opposed to competing against the private sector to run a convention center. 

“When you look at what government does, we’re just not well-suited to do marketplace-based ideas. The private sector has the expertise to market the conventions and groups that want to come in to the community," Wilkerson told WKU Public Radio. "To actually run the facility, you get bogged down in what color the carpet is, what art goes in there. Is that really what government is here for?”

The Sloan Convention Center opened in 1995 and is named after former Bowling Green Mayor Patsy Sloan. 

The RFP states the venue must remain a convention center for 25 years after it’s purchased.  Interested parties have 90 days to submit their proposals.  Mayor Wilkerson says 50 percent of the evaluation criteria is the purchase price while the other half takes into account ideas to improve the convention center experience.

Bowling Green's other convention center, the Knicely Conference Center, is owned by Western Kentucky University.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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