Riley Center Seeing Upswing

Riley Center officials credit the spike in attendance to a number of factors.

It's a contrast to about a year ago, when they say business hit a lull due to the economy. Although attendance at that time was by far, not necessarily bad, it was lower than it is now.

Business is so good that, for the rest of this month, events are set to be held every day, except for two, setting the center up to have record attendance.

"We've got approximately 7,000 coming in and out of the facility this month alone. So, it has been a great October for us," said marketing director Penny Kemp.

"A lot of things are positive in that we had Holiday Inn open and that's helped us a lot," said executive director Dennis Sankovich. "And a number of things on the horizon that, I think, are going to be very positive for us."

One of those will likely be the opening of Mississippi State's Business School, just doors down from the Riley Center, in about two years. That, coupled with the opening of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center a year later, is expected to have a very positive impact on the center.

"People come and they stay in our hotels. They eat in our restaurants," said Kemp. "We utilize a lot of different local caterers and restaurants. So, when we have a major conference, they come in and they shop in our stores."

"I think it's really important for the community to recognize that we have a ton of visitors coming here and that the more we can make them feel welcome, the more they will come back and the more money they will leave with us," Sankovich said.

The MSU Riley Center opened in 2006. Conferences booked generally last at least three days and attract between 250 and 300 people each.

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