Kent’s accesso ShoWare Center lost $299,164 through the first six months of 2019, just one year after the city-owned arena showed its first-ever profit through the second quarter.
The downfall started in the first three months of this year when the center lost $155,390, its worst first quarter since opening in 2009.
“If we go back to the first quarter, we struggled on everything,” Tim Higgins, ShoWare Center general manager, told the Public Facilities District Board, which helps oversee operations, at its July 25 meeting. “It was due to the snowstorms. We had three hockey games that attendance was way down. We had to cancel a concert and move a show. All of that reflected negatively in the income statement. Food and beverage was way down. We are crawling out of that, but it was a tough quarter.”
For the second quarter, the arena lost $143,774 with expenses of $819,075 and income of $675,301, according to the income statement prepared by SMG, the operators of the facility. The center lost $41,668 in the second quarter last year.
SMG projected a loss of $249,178 for the second quarter, so even though the loss remained high, it was $105,404 better than predicted.
“We had a great second quarter,” said Arletta Voter, ShoWare director of finance, about beating budget. “Part of the reason is rental income was up by about $86,000 and food and beverage was up (by $5,000).”
The $84 million arena had three concerts that sold out. Banda MS on April 7, Mercy Me Imagine Nation Tour with Crowder and Micah Taylor on April 14 and Hillsong United on May 30.
Twenty-one high school graduations in 17 days in June helped boost rental income in the second quarter. The arena added four Federal Way high schools to the lineup this year. Federal Way graduations previously were at the Tacoma Dome.
Graduations also boosted food and beverage revenue as the ShoWare Center opened concession stands for the first time this year.
“In the past, schools have dictated that they didn’t want concessions,” Higgins said. “But we said ‘no we need to have concessions.’”
ShoWare Center turned a profit of about $16,000 the first six months of 2018. But a loss of $329,743 in the third quarter (during summer months) hampered the overall picture for a loss of $197,052 in 2018. The arena has lost money each year since it opened in 2009 for a total of $4.1 million, with the highest loss of $752,324 in 2014. Its best year was a loss of $155,268 in 2016.
The City Council covers annual losses with money from the general fund.
Seattle University basketball
The Seattle University men’s basketball team will play several games at the ShoWare Center because of the $800 million renovation of KeyArena for the new NHL team that will begin play in fall 2021.
“Seattle U wants to play a game with us a month,” Higgins said about the 2019-2020 season. “We have them on Dec. 7 and we are working on another one for January, one for February and one for March.”
Seattle U will play a similar number of games in Kent during the 2020-2021 season as the new KeyArena isn’t scheduled to be ready until late spring 2021.