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City-parish considering upgrades at River Center to draw in more events

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BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge may be the second-largest metro area in the state, but it ranks fourth when it comes to accommodations for major events. That puts it behind New Orleans, Shreveport and Lafayette.

Local officials are turning their eyes to the Raising Cane's River Center and what should be done to make it more competitive in attracting larger concerts and conventions to the area.

"It just makes sense for us to take a really hard look at our campus and an assessment of our exhibit hall... and at the convention level and really understand that, should we be satisfied with having the fourth-best facility in the state," City-Parish Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Veneeth Iyengar said.

The city-parish government has formed a special committee that is now looking at hiring a consultant to conduct a study of the center
and see what needs to be done.

"The first phase is going to look a the economic impact of our River Center complex and how we can best market it for success", Iyengar said.

Visit Baton Rouge is putting up $125,000 to pay for the study, which will look at a wide array of options to increase capacity at the River Center and make it more attractive for accommodating major events.

"Does that mean more conventions, more concerts? Does that mean renovations down the road? We just don't know, Iyengar said.

The city-parish hopes to have a consultant hired in April and the study completed in October.

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