Mayor Tom Martin says it's the largest convention Lubbock ever hosted, and Tuesday community leaders announced the FFA Organization will bring its 2011 convention back to the Hub City.
That's despite some hang-ups this past summer, when more than 500 participants had to stay in Texas Tech University Dormitories after some hotels did not honor their reservations.
Mayor Martin says this is very significant for Lubbock. Now, planners say it's time to step-up. "We need to send a message that Lubbock can handle a super bowl event like this," 2011 Convention Finance Chairman Gordon Davis said.
Davis joined in the push to bring about 15,000 participants back to Lubbock. "We knew we tentatively had it in 2011, but because of a few little issues that we consider very minor that we had very proactive response to, not reactive, is one of the reasons that it's coming back in 2011," Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones said.
City leaders say it's a significant event. "The good news is Lubbock is on the map as a major convention city, and we hope to improve that even more in the future," Martin said.
Leaders at Texas Tech say the convention could also lead participants to choose Lubbock as their college destination. "I will tell you that I look forward to seeing those 10, 12, or 15,000 smiling faces visiting our community in 2011, and we do hope that all of them consider going on to various colleges or universities in the state, but of course my bias is they'll consider Texas Tech University," TTU Vice President For Student Affairs Michael Shonrock said.
Organizers say they're not looking back, but that their focus is on the future. "We need to seize this opportunity; the last 90 days we've played a lot of defense. This all broke loose about the motel situation approximately July 9th. It was really the only negative issue with the convention, but here 90-days later we have it back. So, I think it's time to throw the ball into the end zone and play a little offense," Davis said.
Davis says that right now they're concentrating on fundraising. He says they raised around $258,000 last year, with only 114 donors. He hopes to increase donations to provide a bigger and better experience for the FFA Organization in three years.
Agreement Made Following FFA Hotel Mix-Up
L.E.D.A, Visit Lubbock, and the Hotel Motel Association released the names of the hotels that didn't honor contracts with FFA Convention participants last week. Some of those hotels reached an agreement to pay for relocation costs.