City Council votes to give 10-year river barge contract to 'Go Rio San Antonio'
UPDATE: City Council voted to give a 10-year contract to locally owned "Go Rio San Antonio" to run the river walk barges and taxis.
New river barge operator to be decided Thursday
SAN ANTONIO – City leaders are set to decide who will take over river barge operations for the next decade at the council meeting Thursday morning.
The contract will be a huge money-maker for the city, as residents benefited from ticket sales to the tune of more than $60 million over the past 11 years.
The current company, Rio San Antonio Cruises, was not ranked as high during the scoring process as three other companies. A total of five submitted bids to operate the river barges and river taxis.
The process restarted at Mayor Ivy Taylor’s request in February, when city leaders were nearly ready to make a decision. She raised concerns about former mayor Phil Hardberger’s involvement during presentations; she said he appeared to be lobbying but was not registered as one.
All companies were asked to submit their bids again. Hardberger has since registered as a lobbyist and was allowed to present last week.
The company with the highest score is Go Rio San Antonio, a partnership between Landry’s and two San Antonio businesswomen.
However, city staff is recommending Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises, which scored significantly higher on experience, finances and economic benefit to the city. Go Rio earned more than 17 points extra for having local female ownership. Still, the two companies were only separated by one point on a 100-point scale.
Both potential barge operators made their case to city leaders last week. City council is set to decide who will win the 10-year contract on Thursday morning.