Independence Events Center Goes Independent

25 Oct

An early concert at Independence (Mo.) Events Center draws good crowds.

After just under a year of private management in the Global Entertainment Corp. network, the 6,500-seat, $68 million Independence (Mo.) Events Center, which opened in 2009, is reverting to city management.

The city and GEC parted company amicably, according to Allen Garner, city counselor. GEC asked out of the contract. The city has hired the existing staff, including General Manager Mike Young, who is an experienced facility manager, having previously been at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., where he worked for the city, Global Spectrum and AEG as management changed there.

GEC subsidiaries also leaving Independence include Global Food Services and GetTix. Food has been taken in-house with Jim Cundiff still in charge. GetTix is being replaced by Ticketmaster. That transition is underway.

The city has created Independence Events Center LLC to operate the arena, Young said. Garner explained that the arena is a separate revenue stream, not under the city budget. Community Improvement District (CID) bonds were used to build the arena and to establish a first year operating reserve, Garner said. Those reserves have been drawn down. The bonds will now be repaid through a sales tax on surrounding businesses. Ideally, the arena will operate on generated income, with a surplus dedicated to maintenance and capital improvements. CID revenue in the first nine months was $3,335,034.

In the first nine months of operation, event revenue for the main ice floor was approximately $2.2 million not including concession revenue, Garner said. Total revenue for the Centerpoint Community Ice Rink was approximately $604,000 with approximately $286,000 in expenses. That rink is adjacent to the events center and provides community ice time.

The net operating loss the first year exclusive of concession revenue was approximately $710,000, Garner said. The venue hosted 35 Missouri Maverick’s hockey games, six concerts, and 12 sporting or family events, with a total of 185,486 attendees at the events, averaging 3,500 per event.

The Missouri Mavericks Central Hockey League team will be joined by a new tenant, Major Indoor Soccer League’s Missouri Comets, this season, with the first of 12 games set for Nov. 12, Young said. The team is the old Kansas City Comets, with new ownership. The Kansas City Comets played for more than 20 years at Kemper Arena, but went on hiatus in 2006.

Young is budgeting for 130 ticketed events in fiscal 2011. Among events the arena has promoted or co-promoted are Curious George, Celtic Woman, Goo Goo Dolls, and Larry the Cable Guy. “We’re a mid-size venue. We fill a niche,” Young said.

“Part of what we hope to do in changing management is eliminate all the costs we can,” Garner said. Going forward, the city views the LLC as part of a transition. “We run everything through the LLC to capture things, to be sure we know what the score is.” The future may settle into continued self-operation, some sort of new private management deal, or a combination, he said. The immediate concern was a seamless transition for customers and clients. The venue continues to tout free parking and great seats to market to what Garner called “a community delighted with the arena.” — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Mike Young, (816) 795-7577, X202; Allen Garner, (816) 325-7216


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