The issue: Should Cal Poly proceed with plans for a hotel/conference center on campus?
A liberal's perspective:
The event center would be used for rodeo activities, concerts, basketball games and other sporting events. The hotel/conference center could also include a ballroom, museum, alumni center and restaurant.
The stated objective of the proposed project is to bolster the hospitality program.
Yet the $130,000 feasibility study focuses solely on the success of the commercial enterprises. The benefits cited include the availability of facilities for larger conferences and business events, higher attendance at sporting events, concerts, shows and rodeo events. How do these benefit the academic program the project is supposedly for?
Recommendations made are contrary to the stated objective of the project. Verbatim examples (except parenthetical explanations) include:
“For both projects (event center and hotel/ conference center) in this analysis, B&D (consulting firm Brailsford & Dunlavey) assumes credible, professional management and that each facility will actively and aggressively business (sic) in a manner consistent with peer facilities in the marketplace.”
“Engage the athletic department in a detailed discussion with regard to event rents, ancillary revenue sharing formulas, premium seating fulfillment and revenue sharing, and potential assets for operation of the events center.”
“Affiliation is, in this (hotel’s) instance, important due to the potential focus on the business market segment. Travelers in this market segment are heavily influenced by brand loyalty ”
“B&D assumes the facility will be staffed and operated in a manner consistent with other similarly positioned hotels in the country.”
“B&D assumes all promoting will be handled internally (by the affiliated brand, e.g., Marriott), without assistance from the university.”
“Management fees are payments to a (professional) management group which oversees operations of the property.”
Again: How will all this benefit Cal Poly’s hospitality program?
1. The feasibility study should be disregarded; it is incongruent with the stated academic objective.
2. Components of the project to enhance students’ learning experience should be limited to the areas where the community does not offer similar opportunities.
3. This amount ($155 million) should not be spent to upgrade one program. There are other programs too underfunded to achieve high quality, and Cal Poly also should invest in those to enable them to reach a higher level of excellence.
4. The average occupancy rate of local hotels and motels has been in the 60.1 percent to 69.4 percent range during 2007-2013. There is no need to build a hotel on campus.
5. Aesthetically, landscaping is the saving grace of the Cal Poly campus. Caution must be exercised to avoid making the campus a concrete jungle.
6. Future projects should consider environmental impact on residents of the contiguous neighborhoods.
7. Arrangements should be made with the Cal Poly Corporation to enable hospitality students to manage and operate the Sage restaurant, except the accounting function.
Cal Poly should collaborate, rather than compete, with local businesses.