At an infrastructural value of thirty three million dollars, the Civic in Belize City was completed at the end of last year, after Medina’s Construction Limited began building the multi-purpose complex in 2015. Twelve months into the project and considering the scale of the project, the Government of Belize and Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), agreed to seek a private entity to offer quality services and maintain the facility for the long haul. For them to do this, they hired the services of ING Rebel, a public private partnership transaction advisory team out of Washington DC. ING Rebel played an essential role in seeking a management team to maintain the Civic. In September 2017 a request for proposals was issued, attracting six companies both local and international. A month later, representatives from those companies visited the Civic and held meetings with Government and BIL officials. By January 26, the opportunity to submit proposals was officially closed. The evaluation teams then considered all proposals and decided on Apex International Limited, owned by Chad Eckert. But for Eckert to be successful in his bid, he had to establish and register his business in Belize which he did, as Apex Events Services Belize Limited. According to BIL’s General Manager, Christy Maestre, the contract is for three years with a Government Guarantee.
Christy Maestre, General Manager, BIL: “There is a minimum guarantee based on their gross revenue that the company has to earn. That is basically what we would have said that if the government was running this facility itself for the year it’s what it would cost to run this facility. The beauty of a contract such as this is once they have made past that gross revenue we no longer have to put a dollar into it- that gross revenue has now made the government revenue neutral on the facility every year for three years. That is the mark of success if they are making that, filling that pot to that number, the project is successful as long as they are maintaining the facility. Over and above that there becomes a profit sharing mechanism, a ladder style mechanism, where it’s 25/75 and then it goes to 50/50 so the government always comes out with extra above. So not only are we revenue neutral we have the capacity to earn money while they maintain the facility. Should in those three years they not be able to achieve this then we believe the contract would be, and we do not believe it will ever be, would be in failure and then we would have to decide after those three years at two and a half years into it we would start renegotiations and if they are where we see the projects would be failing we would then go out for another management entity after those three years. Should we believe that they are in success and in the mode of success they have the first right to renegotiation.”
According to Maestre, if the project is successful, at the end of the three year term, Government will opt out of the Government Guarantee. That Guarantee is about eight hundred and fifty thousand to a million dollars yearly to adequately maintain the facility. That’s a big figure but Apex’s Assistant General Manager, Reynaldo Malik, says they have the secret to generate the revenues needed.
Reynaldo Malic, Asst.GM. Apex Events LTD.: “The secret to generating revenue not just to cover the expenses of the Civic but also to generate revenue back to the government and to make it a profitable venture for Apex is going to be in our ability to utilize all 365 days of the year. That’s in essence the sort of secret sauce when it comes to venue management. Not only are there 365 days in the year but there is also 24 hours in a day which means we can have multiple events on any single day. Of course the most obvious market would be sporting events, basketball, volleyball, boxing, UFC type events; however in a facility of this nature you can also have conventions in here weddings- one of the parts we are going to build in is a VIP lounge so that you can have business mixers etc. So the range of event types that can be held in the facility is very wide,and it’s almost too much to mention. Wherever the imagination can take you when you have a facility like this you can pretty much accomplish.”
General Manager of Apex International Limited, Chad Eckert, is also optimistic that the Civic will be able to generate the amount of revenues to successfully execute the management contract.
Chad Eckert, General Manager, Apex Events LTD: “I’m very impressed with it. I mean its a truly state of the art type of venue that is here. I mean there is lots of opportunity that you can do here, the way it was built there are a lot of things in it that I didn’t think would be in it- when I found out that it was I was very impressed of different things that were already incorporated into the building. When I first came I said I would like to do this this and that and come to find out that you guys already thought about that and it was already in there. So I was very impressed with the building over all. About seven different areas in the building that can be rented individually or even simultaneously. You can also have- one of our ideas is that we can rent the inside as well as the outside and have like a large expo where you can have vendors on the inside and have them wrapped around the court and upstairs and out in the parking lot as well.”
Signing on behalf of the Government was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Patrick Faber. Minister Faber explained that in the public interest, one thousand hours are being made available for non-for profit events.
Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: “We will sit with the basketball federation and the volleyball association. Those hours will be given to them as a kind of quota and they will decide how it will be used for volleyball, how it will be used for basketball and as well some of the hours will be kept by the government to determine what those events are that we feel are important that can be housed here in the Civic. So we have not gotten to that point yet where we have worked out the details other than to say that individual basketball hours or volleyball hours will be worked out by the federation and the association so nobody can come to the Minister or the Ministry to say ‘we want hours to play basketball.’ that is the federations baby so to speak. Community activities that people want to see happen in the Civic the government will hold on to some of those hours. We’re not sure the mechanism or which entity directly but as soon as we work that out we will let you know but what is important is that the 1000 hours are there. These are off hours so they are not prime time because of course the primary issue here is that the company be given that ability to put out those peak hours so that they can make the revenue that is needed to stand up to their obligations.”
Cost for events will vary. A ceremony for the official opening of the Civic is expected to be held no later than April.