Does Craig need more space for conferences, weddings, special events? | CraigDailyPress.com

Does Craig need more space for conferences, weddings, special events?

Luttrell Barn in Craig is one of several spaces that have potential to be renovated into event and meeting space. Community members have raised over $30,000 to save the 104-year-old barn that fell into disrepair when the county stopped maintaining the structure.

— Two large conferences will be held in Craig this year but questions are being asked if the city needs more space to further develop the market for conferences and events.

Current conference and meeting space

Clarion Inn & Suites (5,555 square feet)

• Food on site

• Audio/Video

• Five meeting areas

• Three areas can be combined for total capacity of 300

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Hampton Inn (1,000 square feet)

• Catering available

• Built-in wireless Audio/Video

• Two meeting areas & 14-person boardroom

• Two areas combined have theater-style seating for 144

Center of Craig (4,440 total square feet)

• Kitchen facilities onsite

• Two large areas and several smaller rooms

• Chapel (2,050 square feet) holds 175

• Auditorium (2,390 square feet) seats 340

Moffat County Fair Grounds Pavilion (3,600 square feet)

• 40 eight-foot tables and 300 chairs

• Central heat and air conditioning

• Built-in wireless Audio/Visual, music system with wireless & hardwire microphones, projector and 126-inch screen

• Kitchen and stage

• Capacity for 250

Moffat County Fair Grounds Grandstands (4,000 square feet)

• 40 eight-foot tables and 170 chairs

• Phone jack

• Concession stand area

• Open-plan space

Moffat County Fair Grounds Picnic Shelter (3,600 square feet)

• 24 tables

• Three charcoal grills

• Water spigot, electrical Lights & outlets

• Playground

• Capacity for 200

Moffat County Ice Arena (rink area 10,625 square feet)

• Summer only

• Four dressing rooms

• Spectator bleachers

• 30 eight-foot tables and 300 chairs available for non-ice use

• Capacity for 300

CNCC Academic Building (from 200 to over 600 square feet)

• Audio/Visual equipment

• Multiple classrooms and boardrooms

• Lobby areas

• Capacity 40 to 120 depending on the room or rooms and configuration

Potential space

Locations up for renovation or being considered for construction might provide additional space/s for events.

Luttrell Barn (3,249 square feet)

With space for about 100, the Save the Barn Committee is accepting donations to help to restore the barn. Donations should be made at Yampa Valley Bank, Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado care of Luttrell barn.

Train Depot (0 to 10,000 square feet)

"The depot itself would not provide conference space, but there is one plan that would include about 10,000 square foot conference space," Oxley said.

Contact the Craig Chamber of Commerce for more information about saving the depot.

CNCC Student Housing

Designs in December proposed a dining hall with flexible conference space for around 400. CNCC's Presidents Council is currently reviewing preliminary plans and finance options to better determine what the college can sustainably afford. They expect to have a plan for public review later this year.

Additionally, there are several large buildings for rent or sale in Craig that could be converted into conference space including buildings previously occupied by Kmart and Family Dollar.

"Right now we are limited in the number of people we can host in a conference space," said Michelle Balleck, executive director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and co-chair of the Rural Philanthropy Days marketing committee.

In April, about 100 people will attend the Colorado and Wyoming Associations of Meat Processors Hands Across the Rockies Annual Convention and Trade Show in Craig and Steamboat Springs. Then Rural Philanthropy Days is set to bring about 300 people to Craig in September.

"I think everyone would agree that we don't have any conference space besides the Clarion. We don't really have anything that could seat more than 300 people," said Craig City Councilman Tony Bohrer.

Conferences are coming to the community despite the lack large capacity, purpose built space.

"We've been able to show that we do have adequate room here with the use of several different spaces, so I'm not sure how high a priority (an event center) would be," said Executive Director of Connections4Kids and Chair of the Rural Philanthropy Days Hospitality Committee Betsy Overton.

Potential conference and event space

Community members working to preserve and restore two historic buildings believe that, if restored, the Luttrell Barn and the Train Depot would provide more choices for unique event spaces.

"We'd like to see more conferences," said Clarion Assistant General Manager Shannon Moore. "I think it's absolutely the right direction to go, to utilize space that we already have available and re-implementing historic spaces like the depot and Luttrell Barn."

If renovated, the barn and depot add small event space.

"I think folks struggle to find a nice place to have events such as weddings," Balleck said. "There is an opportunity to highlight our history and accommodate smaller groups in a space that is a little more intimate."

Another proposal being discussed is building a conference or event center.

"There is talk of a new convention center, while this is great, they need to be cautious on how big you build," Moore said. "I would like to see it in town so we can collect taxes that will go back to the community to continue to build."

Challenges to bringing conferences to Craig

Conference planners face a number of challenges in growing the market in Craig.

"One of our problems is that we don't have that large space in the same area where we can do breakout spaces," said Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christina Oxley.

Events requiring multiple spaces for breakout sessions have to use multiple venues.

"The Colorado Association of Museums had meetings around town and didn't have meetings in one centralized spot," Moore said.

Rural Philanthropy days will use the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, Wyman Living History Museum, Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Mormon Church and the Journey at First Baptist Church.

Holding an event across multiple venues has pluses and minuses, Overton said.

"If you have it all in one place you have to keep resetting it, if you are using multiple places you can set it and your done," she said.

It also draws guests out of hotel rooms and into the community.

"It got people outside of the hotels and seeing more of Craig," Moore said of the museum's event. "I think that tempts those people to come back."

While event organizers have been able to find creative solutions to the lack of an event center there are other challenges to increasing the market.

"I think there is a barrier to get through with regard to our location, we are not just rural, we are remote," Moore said.

In addition, winter weather, seasonal activities such as outages at the power plant and hunting season fill area hotels. These factors make the timing of conferences difficult.

"Right now, with icy roads, I can't imagine getting 200 people to town for a conference," Moore said. "The fall is a really difficult time to accommodate conferences due to hunting season. There is a fine balance for what the town can handle, not just in terms of conferences, but also in terms of hotel rooms."

It's important to go after events that literally fit the area.

"We have 598 rooms including the cabins out west of town," said Moffat County Tourism Director Tom Kleinschnitz. "There is a push and pull between having enough space for an event as well as the rooms to accommodate the event needs. The big outdoor retailer trade shows draw a couple hundred thousand people and that might not work, but perhaps there are pre and post events, smaller groups that we need to target."

How does the community decide if Craig has the space it needs to capture more of the conference and event market?

"Until we have someone really focused on looking for conferences and making bids for those, we are working on a lot of anecdotal information right now," Oxley said. "Is this a field of dreams? If you build it will they come?"

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Current conference and meeting space

Clarion Inn & Suites (5,555 square feet)

• Food on site

• Audio/Video

• Five meeting areas

• Three areas can be combined for total capacity of 300

Hampton Inn (1,000 square feet)

• Catering available

• Built-in wireless Audio/Video

• Two meeting areas & 14-person boardroom

• Two areas combined have theater-style seating for 144

Center of Craig (4,440 total square feet)

• Kitchen facilities onsite

• Two large areas and several smaller rooms

• Chapel (2,050 square feet) holds 175

• Auditorium (2,390 square feet) seats 340

Moffat County Fair Grounds Pavilion (3,600 square feet)

• 40 eight-foot tables and 300 chairs

• Central heat and air conditioning

• Built-in wireless Audio/Visual, music system with wireless & hardwire microphones, projector and 126-inch screen

• Kitchen and stage

• Capacity for 250

Moffat County Fair Grounds Grandstands (4,000 square feet)

• 40 eight-foot tables and 170 chairs

• Phone jack

• Concession stand area

• Open-plan space

Moffat County Fair Grounds Picnic Shelter (3,600 square feet)

• 24 tables

• Three charcoal grills

• Water spigot, electrical Lights & outlets

• Playground

• Capacity for 200

Moffat County Ice Arena (rink area 10,625 square feet)

• Summer only

• Four dressing rooms

• Spectator bleachers

• 30 eight-foot tables and 300 chairs available for non-ice use

• Capacity for 300

CNCC Academic Building (from 200 to over 600 square feet)

• Audio/Visual equipment

• Multiple classrooms and boardrooms

• Lobby areas

• Capacity 40 to 120 depending on the room or rooms and configuration

Potential space

Locations up for renovation or being considered for construction might provide additional space/s for events.

Luttrell Barn (3,249 square feet)

With space for about 100, the Save the Barn Committee is accepting donations to help to restore the barn. Donations should be made at Yampa Valley Bank, Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado care of Luttrell barn.

Train Depot (0 to 10,000 square feet)

“The depot itself would not provide conference space, but there is one plan that would include about 10,000 square foot conference space,” Oxley said.

Contact the Craig Chamber of Commerce for more information about saving the depot.

CNCC Student Housing

Designs in December proposed a dining hall with flexible conference space for around 400. CNCC’s Presidents Council is currently reviewing preliminary plans and finance options to better determine what the college can sustainably afford. They expect to have a plan for public review later this year.

Additionally, there are several large buildings for rent or sale in Craig that could be converted into conference space including buildings previously occupied by Kmart and Family Dollar.