Even though the city-owned accesso ShoWare Center in Kent continue to loses money, the losses so far this year aren’t as high as projected.
“Our third quarter results for year to date is better than our projected budget by $177,000,” said Tim Higgins, ShoWare Center general manager, in an email. “This is due to an increase in our food and beverage revenue with 10 additional (Seattle) Thunderbirds (hockey) playoff games and higher than budgeted attendance for all events.”
The ShoWare Center had revenue of $2.24 million and expenses of $3.17 million through the first nine months of 2023, according to the arena’s income statement released at the Oct. 26 Public Facilities District meeting. That board helps oversee operations of the arena.
That’s still a loss of $928,539 through the third quarter, but less than the projected budget deficit of $1.1 million.
“We had two concerts cancel and a significant increase in repairs,” Higgins said about budget challenges. “We are into our 15th year of operation and the life cycle for most equipment has passed. We needed to replace the marquee video wall on the plaza, added additional security cameras with upgraded hardware and software, ice plant needed repairs, and we continually repair the audio system until it is replaced in 2024.”
SMG, which operates the 6,200-seat arena, projects a loss of $973,576 for 2023. Higgins expects the fourth quarter numbers to do well.
“Our fourth quarter and year-end forecast has the venue meeting or exceeding our projected budget, and we do not expect a loss that will require the use of SVOG (Shuttered Venue Operating Grant) funds,” Higgins said.
The ShoWare Center received $4.6 million from the federal Shuttered Venue Operating Grant, given out to operators across the nation to help cover losses from canceled events during the pandemic. The arena used $675,000 of that grant to help cover losses in 2022 and $1.63 million in 2021.
ShoWare has set aside $1.5 million from the grant to help cover future losses deeper than what SMG budgeted. The city of Kent already helps cover losses with $500,000 given each year to the arena from the general fund.
The city also kicks in $300,000 a year for capital costs where needed to help keep the facility upgraded. The city charges an admission tax of 5% on each ticket sold. That money goes into the city’s general fund but is transferred into a ShoWare operating fund to help pay for capital projects.
Higgins expects a strong fourth quarter based on several things, including a strong fan turnout for Disney On Ice, which generally draws well during its annual visit to Kent.
“We just closed out a very successful nine show run with Disney On Ice with attendance at approximately 90% of capacity, well above our budgeted number,” Higgins said.
Finishing out the year with more T-Birds games, a few more concerts, a cheerleading competition Dec. 16 and the return of the Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team on Dec. 9 for another Major Arena Soccer League season, puts the ShoWare Center on track to meet its projected budget for 2023, Higgins said.
The arena continues to bring a lot of people to Kent, who spend money in town at restaurants and other businesses.
“As we are approaching our 15-year anniversary of opening the accesso ShoWare Center in January of 2009 we have brought approximately 7.2 million guests through the venue and to the core of Downtown Kent,” Higgins said.