Kent’s ShoWare Center turns profit in first quarter of 2011

Tim Higgins could hardly wait to share that the ShoWare Center in Kent made a profit in the first three months of 2011. "I like to go right to the bottom," said Higgins, the arena's general manager, said as he prepared to tell the Public Facilities District board Thursday about the income statement for January through March. "We were in the black for the first quarter at about $12,000."

Fans live it up at the Ladies Night Out

Fans live it up at the Ladies Night Out

Tim Higgins could hardly wait to share that the ShoWare Center in Kent made a profit in the first three months of 2011.

“I like to go right to the bottom,” said Higgins, the arena’s general manager, said as he prepared to tell the Public Facilities District board Thursday about the income statement for January through March. “We were in the black for the first quarter at about $12,000.”

Profits are a rarity for the 2-year-old arena that lost money for the second consecutive year in 2010. The board oversees operations of the $84.5 million, city-owned events center.

The ShoWare Center had receipts of $684,289 and expenses of $672,560 for January through March for a profit of $11,729, according to the income statement compiled by SMG, the arena operator.

“Our event income increased,” Higgins said. “A lot of that was due to the number of events. We had 52 events in the building the first 90 days compared to 34 (in the first 90 days) last year.”

The ShoWare Center lost $84,000 in the first three months of 2010. The arena lost $398,000 in 2010 and $451,000 in 2009.

“We’re off to a good start,” said Ben Wolters, city economic and community development director, in an interview after the board meeting. “It’s encouraging we are where we are at. We’re tracking pretty close to projections. Our goal remains to whittle away at the operating deficit. The early results say we’re heading in the right direction to do that.”

The city continues to set aside money in its annual capital budget fund to cover the losses at the arena. That money could be used to help pay for improvements to city streets, facilities and other capital projects.

In addition to hockey games played in the first three months of 2011 at the arena by the anchor tenant Seattle Thunderbirds, ShoWare operators lined up a number of other events that drew good crowds. Those events included a Ladies Night Out concert, the Harlem Globetrotters, a Hillsong United concert that sold out, and a Fantasia concert.

“The R&B concerts have been very successful and gained us a lot of recognition,” Higgins said. “I’m starting to get calls from agents in New York. Success breeds success.”

ShoWare has more than 30 events scheduled for the next 60 days, including another Ladies Night Out concert May 14, the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions May 21-22, a Mixed Martial Arts event June 24 and the rock group A Perfect Circle June 30.

“We’re averaging an event every other day,” Higgins said. “That’s quite busy.”

More than 4,500 tickets have been sold for A Perfect Circle, which is expected to sell out.

“It’s really exciting landing A Perfect Circle to the building,” Wolters said. “They are considered a rock super group. That shows the progression and maturity of the building. We’re starting to get traction in the marketplace.”


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