The grand ballroom in the newly-constructed Embassy Suites by Hilton and Red Wolf Convention Center will be the Arvest Ballroom when the hotel opens in October.
Arvest Bank bought the naming rights of the almost 15,000 square foot space for the next 17 years in an agreement with O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Arvest Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,500 guests and may be partitioned off to create seven individual meeting spaces.
The addition of Red Wolf Convention Center creates a third major meeting and event venue adjacent to the Arkansas State University campus. It is the second largest meeting space, and the only true ballroom space, in Jonesboro.
“Jonesboro continues to flourish as a regional destination for entertainment events, and certainly university-related activities, and we look forward to hosting guests in this beautiful new space,” Kevin Hufstedler, community bank president of Arvest Bank in Jonesboro said.
O’Reilly Hospitality Management anticipates that more than 25,000 guests will attend events in Red Wolf Convention Center during the first year. The all-suite hotel consists of 203 suites, an on-site restaurant, on-site catering featuring food prepared by a professionally trained chef, indoor pool and fitness center. Event and meeting space can accommodate 200 trade show booths.
The project was initially expected to cost about $60 million. That estimate is likely to rise, Embassy Suites and Red Wolf Convention Center General Manager Kraig Pomrenke previously told Talk Business & Politics. The cost for steel used in the construction of the project has risen dramatically due to the trade war with China, he said. Much, if not all, of the steel for the project was bought after the trade war started. How much it will add to the bottom line has yet to be determined, he added.
Records from the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission show that O’Reilly previously said at least 430 jobs would be created directly or indirectly as part of the convention center project with a $44.418 million impact on the local economy. Of the estimated 430 jobs, 300 would be at the convention center with the rest coming from other sources.
ASU officials are hopeful it will serve as a springboard for a new hospitality management program. Hospitality management is only offered as an emphasis at this time, but the goal is to develop a full-fledged program once the hotel and convention center open, ASU Provost Dr. Lynita Cooksey said.
The company plans to hire up to 125 employees and management hopes to have the sales staff in place by its opening. The company plans to hire a number of ASU students to fill its ranks.
“We are proud to partner with Arvest Bank as our Red Wolf Convention Center ballroom naming sponsor. Arvest’s great reputation for excellence in business and banking will be a real asset to the image and reputation of our facility,” OHM CEO Tim O’Reilly said.