Here’s an idea for people who want a new palatial community center in Mackle Park to include among its opulent operations an event room that could be rented our for a profit.
They have visions of the city making big bucks hosting wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, birthdays, Marco Island Academy class reunions and other groups that would pay for a place to play.
If you think that’s a good idea, check with some of your favorite hotel managers and restaurateurs. They mostly think it’s awful, even though they are in no hurry to get into a public dispute with city hall.
“I don’t know what the dreamers are thinking of,” one business executive told us.
But wait. Might we actually need a government-owned, taxpayer-supported party-room-meeting-hall venue? Let’s see what’s out there already.
The Hilton has facilities that fit the description.
“We have a nice bar room area and a penthouse terrace where we do a lot of groups,” notes Manager Mac Chaudhry. “We have receptions around the pool and on the beach. We have the Seagull Room and the Heron Room that hold easily 60 people each. Then, of course, there’s the big ballroom. So we have a lot of options, as do many hotels.”
Across Collier Boulevard, Al Landers at Stonewalls restaurant says he can arrange use of his place for private parties, dinners and other events.
Just another example. There are scores more.
How about Bistro Soleil, the fine French restaurant at the Olde Marco Island Inn?
Co-owner Lisa Meurgue encourages and welcomes private meetings and parties.
“We have the ballroom, of course, plus four more dining rooms. Also, based on availability and the time of year, we can put a given number of people in one room because they’ve requested it for a private meeting or dinner and such.
“When the NFL group was here our ballroom was rented for an exhibit of workout equipment.”
The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort also hosted the NFL gathering and put on a beach party for 600 of them. The Marriott also has three ballrooms on the property plus the Rookery clubhouse at the off-island golf course.
“We have a plethora of space available, not only for convention groups but also for our local clients’ use. For example the Marco Town Hall event was here. We did more than 125 weddings last year, for groups of from 10 to 500 people.”
Plans for a major new convention center near the Marriott on South Collier would add about 40,000 square feet for locals and visitors to meet, greet, wine, dine and contribute to the local economy.
What’s next, City Pizza?
Obviously we all could name lots of Marco venues in restaurants and lodging centers where people can hold private events. So why should city butt into that business? Just to make money to help pay for the place?
While they’re at it, how about putting in a city-owned and operated pizza store? We can only get pizza from about nine or 10 places on the Island — not nearly enough. And Government Pizza could tout its cheaper pies and unmatched delivery service.
A pizza could cost less than at private sector stores because it would have no rent or taxes to pay. City Pizza could offer great home delivery by having Marco police do it, sirens wailing, lights flashing. We can see the slogan now, “City Pizza, delivery in three minutes or your pizza is free and so is your ‘Get out of jail’ card.”
Why not have the city get into the dry cleaning business? Oh, sorry, some at city hall already have big ideas that might take the taxpayers to the cleaners.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. Email email@example.com.
Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.