Though the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center has always been the city's pride and joy, it has had a troubled childhood, never quite reaching its expected potential — especially when it comes to making money.

Though the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center has always been the city's pride and joy, it has had a troubled childhood, never quite reaching its expected potential — especially when it comes to making money.

In an effort to make improvements — a priority for all involved — some changes may be coming soon.

Interim City Manager Eric Benson said preliminary discussions have started to determine what options exist and whether they appeal to the expo board of trustees.

“Discussions have been encouraging and we’ve identified many areas where a new entity may clearly be better suited to the task than current practices,” he said.

Spectra, a venue management and hospitality services company, is being considered as a possible manager of the facility.

“The company’s reach, marketing capabilities, depth of talent and proven track record in markets the size of Shawnee are very compelling items,” Benson said. “The City Commission, as well as the expo's board of trustees have been briefed during an initial meeting with the company and found attraction in many facets of the proposal.”

It’s not a simple issue and has many moving parts, Benson said, but the current status needs an update to remain feasible, as well as to maximize return on the community's investment.

“We can and should do better, for all parties, including the city employees who currently serve the facility, which reports to and is guided by the board of trustees — yet remain city employees,” he said. “The examination of cost effectiveness indicates there is ample opportunity for improvement, thence profit.”

It’s a great opportunity for the community to expand the reach and use of the facility, he said.

“Spectra never enters a market unless they and their client can be successful,” he said. “I expect double digit increases in profitability, if approved.”

No decisions have been made at this point, Benson said.

He said there will be more meetings with the expo's board of trustees, as well as discussions with the City Commission about where to go from here.

Though no dates have been set yet, Benson said he hopes to meet with both entities before mid-January.

Watch for updates.