Spokane Journal of Business

Entertainment facilities report record revenue

Three of four showed operational profits; only Albi needed subsidy, city says

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Spokanes four major entertainment and meeting facilities had their best year ever financially in 1997, bolstered by record combined revenue of more than $2.35 million, according to a year-end report released recently.

The Opera House, Convention Center, and International Ag Trade Center all recorded operational profits, meaning that they made money before debt service was factored into their results, the report says. Only Albi Stadium required an operational subsidy, and that sumabout $24,000was well below the previous years $64,000 subsidy, it says.

The citys entertainment facilities department showed a record operational profit of about $344,000 for all of the facilities and a loss, or required subsidy from the city, of $108,000the smallest in recent historywhen debt service was included.

It was an excellent year, buoyed by the fact that we had a true international conference in SUBUD, says Mike Kobluk, Spokanes entertainment facilities director.

The World SUBUD Association conference in August brought more than 3,000 delegates to Spokane from 75 countries. The delegates stayed about two weeks and are estimated to have spent more than $6.5 million here.

That made obviously a tremendous difference to us, but also put us in a different category by elevating the citys stature as a major destination among meeting planners around the country, Kobluk says.

Here are some of the other highlights from the year-end entertainment facilities report:

The Ag Trade Center recorded the largest operational profit, at about $149,000, followed by the Opera House, at about $134,000, and the Convention Center at about $34,000.

Those three facilities and Albi Stadium together attracted nearly 963,000 patrons attending about 1,180 event days, which refers to the combined number of days on which different groups held performances or used the facilities for other purposes.

The Convention Center/Ag Trade Center/Opera House complex hosted 38 conventions, which the Spokane Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) estimates resulted in direct spending in the community of $27.1 million and supported or created 494 jobs.

In the nine years the Ag Trade Center has been operating, that three-facility complex has hosted a total of 238 conventions, resulting in estimated direct spending here of about $165.5 million. That figure, also calculated by the CVB, doesnt include consumer shows, local meetings, and community celebrations that also used the facilities.

A total of 113 conventions and conferences have confirmed plans to use Spokane entertainment facilities between 1998 and 2005, which the CVB estimates will result in direct spending here of more than $100 million.

The citys entertainment facilities department spent about $244,000 less than budgeted and took in about $84,000 more in revenue than projected, thus ending the year about $328,000 better off than anticipated.

We dont know that well be able to do that every year, but were proud that weve been able to do it the last couple of years, Kobluk says.

He says he doesnt know whether the citys entertainment facilities will be able to set revenue records again this year. A lot of the events that are held in the Opera House are confirmed only three or four months in advance, so its difficult to make meaningful year-end projections, Kobluk says.

However, he adds, At this point, were quite pleased with the way things are going.

Kim Crompton
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