HS wrestling tourney loses money at Wichita arena

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On my recent business trips to Wichita, I've been staying at a hotel that provides a free copy of the local paper (75 cent newsstand price), which I've been reading over breakfast each morning. It's fascinating to see the parallels and differences between Tulsa and Wichita. Over the next few days I'll be going through my stack of clippings and sharing some items that you, too, may find interesting.

From the April 25, 2010, Wichita Eagle -- Wrestling takes loss on tourney at arena:

Intrust Bank Arena made a profit, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association took a loss on the state wrestling championship in February, officials say.

The association's leader said recently that the Class 6A and 5A tournaments would not return because the venue is too expensive. But Friday, he said talks with arena operator SMG remain open....

Arena general manager Chris Presson confirmed Friday that the arena made a profit on the tournament but would not say how much.

[KSHSAA executive director Gary] Musselman said arena rent and expenses cost the association $75,767. He said the association ended up with a net loss of $44,980....

Last year's event at the Kansas Coliseum brought in $23,852 for the association.

The tournament drew 6,693 people -- including premium seat holders whose tickets did not count toward the association's paid attendance, according to arena officials. Gross ticket sales were $50,500.

Paid attendance at the Coliseum last year was 6,348. Gross ticket sales were $56,985....

Records from SMG to the county show that two sporting events in February -- the wrestling tournament and a Gravity Slashers freestyle motorcross show -- brought in $142,890 in gross building income.

SMG did not make a breakdown available.

While it raised the money for the arena through a 30-month 1 percent sales tax, the county says it cannot share some financial details with the public. Its contract with SMG includes a confidentiality agreement.
SMG does share with the public such information as number of performances and event days; net direct event income for categories of events; net food, beverage and merchandise income; other net income and gross building income.

It does not share net profits or losses for individual events.

Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said he went to the arena to view SMG's full financial reports for January and February, the reports it sends to its home office. But because he was not allowed to take notes or make copies, he was not able to provide the figures.

A few things to note:

Premium seat licenses means more money for the arena owner and operator, but for the event promoter it means less revenue from the same number of spectators. At Tulsa's BOK Center, what events are included in the premium seat price?

A 17,500 seat capacity may be wonderful for the rare event that requires it, but it's a financial burden for an event likely to draw a smaller crowd, and for a city the size of Wichita or Tulsa, that's going to mean most events.

Despite the novelty of the facility (Intrust Bank Arena has only been open since the first of the year), the event drew about the same number of fans as last year.

SMG runs arenas in Wichita, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. At what point do they start tweaking event bookings among the three cities to maximize their bottom line, without regard to the interests of the individual cities they serve? Should we expect to see a less impressive lineup in Tulsa just before their contract is up for renewal in Wichita?

SMG's contract with Wichita limits the amount of financial information available to decision makers and the public at large, information that was previously available for publicly owned, publicly operated facilities. Does Tulsa have the same deal?

MORE: Here is Tulsa's contract with SMG for the BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center (3 MB PDF). That's a searchable and smaller version of this original scan on the Tulsa City Council website (12 MB PDF).

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Bob said:

"Asst County Manager Ron Holt said he went to the arena to view SMG's full financial reports for January and February. But, because he was not allowed to take notes or make copies, he was not able to provide the figures."

Any entity like SMG that contracts with a government entity that does NOT allow an official representative of that government entity to "take notes or make copies" of a document is a CROOK.

route66news said:

It's foolish for a high-school athletic association to book a large arena for a fast-declining sport. Interest and participation in wrestling has been plummeting for decades.

Attendance of 6,300 for a two-day event is pathetic. The Kansas association needs to book instead a nice high-school gym for it; any decent-size basketball court would more than suffice.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 6, 2010 10:43 AM.

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