Federal relief grants will continue to help the city-owned accesso ShoWare Center in Kent make money in 2022 despite lower than expected revenue from concerts, shows and games.
“Coming into 2022 we were hopeful on the revenue side,” ShoWare general manager Tim Higgins said at a Oct. 27 meeting of the Public Facilities District Board that helps oversee operations of the 6,200-seat arena. “But we still had Covid restrictions through March that affected attendance. We were down across the board almost 30% to budget (for 2022) and 50% to 2019. Revenue is affected significantly based on attendance and shows.”
With fewer shows and smaller crowds, income from food and beverage sales was about $300,000 below budget through the third quarter (September) of 2022, according to the ShoWare income statement. Facility fees were down about $151,000.
The arena had event income of $1.3 million through September and expenses of $2.8 million for a loss of $1.5 million, according to the income statement.
But the ShoWare Center, through the city of Kent, will receive $2.9 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant for emergency assistance for venues impacted between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021. The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act approved by Congress.
That grant, to be received soon, will boost third quarter income to $1.4 million.
The largest expenses for the arena included $1.4 million for salaries and benefits and $421,533 for utilities.
“We needed to increase part-time salaries to get people back coming out of Covid because the market demanded that,” Higgins said.
In 2021, the arena had operating income of $2.97 million and expenses of $2.54 million for a profit of $436,456, according to the income statement released May 12 by ShoWare Center operator SMG. SMG used $1.63 million of its federal Shuttered Venue Operating Grant to help cover losses from canceled events. The rest of the grant will cover losses for this year.
Although not due to Covid-19, the arena took two more hits in October when two concerts were canceled, a Bollywood show and a concert by Nigerian rapper Burna Boy, which had sold out. Higgins said they got a call at about 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, the day of the 7 p.m. show, that Burna Boy’s plane had broken down, so the concert had to be canceled. The show would have brought in significant revenue, Higgins said.
Disney On Ice returned Oct. 26-30 to the ShoWare and ticket sales were up about 20% compared to last year. The arena had four Seattle Thunderbirds hockey games in October and attendance was up about 28% from last year, said T-Birds president Colin Campbell.
“We’re trending in the right direction,” Campbell said.
The Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team returns Dec. 10 for another season. The 100.7 The Wolf Hometown Holiday concert of country singers is set for Dec. 9 and expected to sell out, Higgins said. He added a cheerleading competition (All Things Cheer) on Dec. 17 at the arena is expected to fill about 500 hotel rooms in the area.
The ShoWare Center has added a new $1 million scoreboard to replace the original one when the arena opened in 2009. The scoreboard is larger and features more vivid graphics and video.