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Senate Hospitality works to understand quilt show

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

Paducah's downtown hotel is a long way from finished, but Senate Hospitality is already working to learn what makes Paducah's convention center complex attractive to large events.

Representatives from Senate Hospitality attended the annual meeting between the American Quilter's Society and Paducah city officials, where show logistics and event specifics are discussed each year. That meeting, which took place last week, was just the first time the three parties will interact. Senate's people will shadow AQS, and operational staff from the Carson Center, throughout the entire quilt show to learn the ins and outs of the massive event before they take over operations at the Julian M. Carroll Convention Center next year.

"The show is absolutely important to us," Senate Hospitality CFO David Malone said. "The quilter show is important to Paducah and will be important to our project. We want to understand everything about the show, how it works, what the needs are and how they prepare."

Senate Hospitality is part of the group responsible for bringing a $19.2 million hotel to Paducah's downtown. As part of the package, Senate Hospitality will run operations at the Julian M. Carroll Convention and Paducah Expo centers. The hotel will be smaller in comparison to the hotel that formerly occupied the space - the 400-room behemoth Executive Inn - but will include a walking bridge over the floodwall to connect the hotel with the convention space. There also will be a restaurant and bar.

The hotel is slated to open in June 2015. Next year, quilters will see construction at the site, and the Paducah Dome Pavilion, or bubble, will most likely go unused. The city is working to revamp the former Executive Inn's showroom and kitchen area to give the AQS the space it needs.

The AQS runs its Paducah show with its own employees and has taken the lead on much of the operations side of the event. Quilt Week in Paducah is annually known to attract about 30,000 quilters to the city for an entire week. AQS Director of Show Operations Terry Guill said Senate representatives will be shadowing him, along with Carson Center employees who oversee operations.

"There won't be much of a change on our end," Guill said. "We are still going to have the same amount of people out there, but they can see just about every aspect of the work we do. From the setup, to our needs, to the parking situations and so on, everything is there for them to see. I think we could learn a lot from them as well."

Executive Show Director Bonnie Browning said she thinks Senate is a great addition to the city and hopes the quilt show will reveal the space's potential.

"They don't have to woo us here," Browning said. "We are already here. But they can see how we use the Convention and Expo centers, and they can see how others would potentially use them."

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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