The city-owned accesso ShoWare Center lost $155,390 in the first three months of this year – its worst first quarter since opening in 2009.
A cancellation of one concert and two shows budgeted for the first quarter that moved to later in the year caused the unexpected loss at the Kent arena, said Tim Higgins, ShoWare general manager, in a Tuesday email.
The arena had revenue of $855,379 and expenses of $1.01 million in the first quarter of this year, according to the ShoWare Center income statement. The previous highest loss was $83,902 when the arena opened in 2009.
The arena made $58,106 in the first quarter in 2018.
“We budgeted 150,000 in attendance for the first quarter and had 120,000 in attendance,” Higgins said. “For 2018, we had 143,000 in attendance. This decrease was due to three shows that did not happen that we budgeted for.”
A Harlem Globetrotters performance moved from the first quarter to Nov. 17. A concert that will be announced in a few weeks moved to later in the year. Due to promoter confidentiality, the name of the cancelled concert cannot be disclosed, Higgins said.
The February snowstorms also hampered attendance at Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey games, a Tacoma Stars soccer game and rental of the ice to an adult hockey league.
“Two weeks of snow in the month of February had a significant impact on attendance for three hockey games, a soccer game and our ice rental,” Higgins said.
Expenses were up $98,253 this year compared to the first quarter in 2018.
“Expenses are higher mainly due to a extra payroll in the in the quarter that was not budgeted and will be made up throughout the year,” Higgins said.
Food and beverage income dropped by $118,161 compared to last year.
“Our ancillary income – food and beverage was down 17 percent which mirrors our attendance being down 16 percent compared to the first quarter of 2018,” Higgins said.
Now in its 11th year, the arena made small profits in the first quarters of 2018, 2017 and 2016 after two consecutive years of losses in the opening quarter. First and fourth quarters are typically the strongest at the arena.
Things began to look up at the arena with an operating loss of $197,052 for the entire year in 2018, the second best year since it opened. The ShoWare Center has lost money every year, with the lowest loss of $155,268 in 2016 and the highest loss of $752,324 in 2014. The losses total more than $4 million in 10 years.
The city covers operating losses at the ShoWare with monies from the general fund, including a 5 percent admission tax on each ticket sold at the arena. That tax brought in $119,406 in the first quarter of this year. City officials say the arena also brings in an estimated $25 million per year to the local economy, according to the most recent study done in 2013.
The Public Facilities District Board, which helps oversee arena operations, didn’t discuss the latest loss because it had to cancel its meeting last week when only two of its five members showed up. Three members are required to hold a meeting.