BROKEN BOW, Neb. — By this fall Broken Bow will have its first convention center.
A group of local investors joined forces to bring the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites to the west side of Broken Bow, said Craig Safranek, chairman of the executive committee for the investors.
“It started with a need for a convention center for nice events such as wedding receptions and the One Box Pheasant Hunt event,” he said.
They looked for a hotel chain that could offer a convention center and small hotel. Safranek noted that the Cobblestone franchise usually serves the smaller market.
The hotel will break ground April 25. It will include 36 rooms, including whirlpool suites; an indoor pool; a hot tub; exercise machines, a 50-person meeting room; and a beer and wine bar.
The hotel will be on west Highway 2, between Custer Campus and the new Trotter's Whoa and Go.
The project received approval for tax-increment financing at a Broken Bow City Council meeting last month.
Safranek said a survey indicated Broken Bow — the county seat — could support more hotels, although that wasn't the main reason for the project. Americas Best Value Inn & Suites is the only other chain hotel in town, and Safranek said at one point the hotel needed more rooms and removed its meeting room.
“A convention center is going to bring that many more people to town and fill all the hotels up,” he said noting that nearly every hotel and motel room in town is already booked for the week of the One Box hunt. “Thirty-six rooms don't go very far if you have an event in town.”
Safranek, who is also on the One Box Foundation Board, said they were running out of room for the annual hunt's big dinner and auction. Those events are usually held at the Municipal Building, which can seat about 300.
He said the new Custer Campus also was serving as a meeting place, but its class schedule is filling up and space is less available.
The convention center will seat up to 500 at round tables or more than 1,000 for a meeting atmosphere. It also can be split into two rooms.
Safranek says the One Box Pheasant Hunt had bought naming rights to the convention center, so visitors will come to Cobblestone Hotel & Suites and the One Box Convention Center.
“That was exciting for them to possibly to grow a 300-person event with three nights' worth of events and almost double the amount of people who can attend,” he said. “It made sense for us, too, to have them as a partner.”
The project is to be completed by Oct. 15, just weeks before the 2013 pheasant hunt.