A $3.1 million grant awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to the city-owned accesso ShoWare Center in Kent will help cover losses and expenses during the pandemic. COURTESY PHOTO, Seattle Thunderbirds

A $3.1 million grant awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to the city-owned accesso ShoWare Center in Kent will help cover losses and expenses during the pandemic. COURTESY PHOTO, Seattle Thunderbirds

Kent’s ShoWare Center receives $3.1 million federal grant

Part of Shuttered Venue Operators Grants program to help cover losses, expenses during pandemic

The accesso ShoWare Center in Kent received a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help cover costs and revenue losses when the city-owned arena was closed during the pandemic.

The monies are part of $7.5 billion in Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to more than 10,000 hard-hit live entertainment small businesses, nonprofits and venues, according to the SBA. The program, funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, is designed to assist in getting the nation’s cultural institutions, which are critical to the economy and were among the first to shutter, back on track.

A total of 293 grants valued at more than $195 million have been awarded to venues in Washington, according to the SBA.

“We are extremely grateful to the federal government in recognizing the economic losses our industry has endured during this prolonged shutdown and assisting with the Shuttered Venues Operating Grant,” said ShoWare Center general manager Tim Higgins in an email. “Our awarded amount of $3M will be used to cover revenue losses and expenses incurred throughout the shutdown period.”

The funds can be used to help cover costs from March 2020 through December 2021, said City finance director Paula Painter in an Aug. 10 presentation to the City Council.

About $1.8 million will go to personnel costs; $403,000 to administrative costs; $390,000 to utilities; $295,000 to business expenses; and $111,000 to contractual agreements, Painter said.

Painter said the city’s application for the grant included a breakdown of expenses and losses.

Closed for all but the first two months of 2020 due to COVID-19, the ShoWare Center lost $1.14 million last year. The 6,200-seat arena had expenses of $2.45 million and revenue of $1.3 million, according to the ShoWare Center income statement released in May by SMG, which operates the $84.5 million facility.

Fifty-eight events were canceled in 2020 for an estimated revenue loss of $1.6 million. The city’s 5% admissions tax on each ticket sold brought in just $138,501 in 2020 compared to $638,090 in 2019. That money goes to the city’s general fund.

Event income came in about $1.5 million under budget for 2020. Food and beverage concession sales were $975,943 under budget and rental income came in $806,568 under budget.

SMG reduced salaries and wages by nearly 50% from $2.4 million to $1.2 million. The operator laid off six full-time employees and eight other full-time employees were furloughed full or part time. More than 200 part-time employees were let go.

The city helped cover the losses with its annual contribution of $500,000 from the general fund to arena operating costs. The city also kicks in $300,000 a year for capital costs where needed to help keep the facility upgraded.

The city contributed another $545,000 from federal COVID-19 relief to help cover the costs when the ShoWare Center reopens later this year to concerts and events.

Events coming up

Upcoming events at the ShoWare Center include the Awakening Music Festival on Sept. 11, Gruopo Firme concert on Sept. 18, Reignman Music Festival featuring Wiz Khalifa on Sept. 19, Seattle Kraken vs Calgary Flames NHL exhibition game on Oct. 2 and the Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey league home opener on Oct. 9.

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