News Column

Intrust Bank Arena sees first-quarter loss, gives 2013 profit check to county

May 14, 2014

By Deb Gruver, The Wichita Eagle



May 14--Intrust Bank Arena posted a $41,490 loss the first quarter of this year, Assistant Sedgwick County Manager Ron Holt told commissioners Wednesday.

The arena played host to 38 paid performances in the first quarter, eight less than the same time period last year. There were 18 Wichita Thunder hockey games, five concerts, four family shows, one visit by the Harlem Globetrotters and one performance by WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Some events featured more than one performance.

Gross building income in the first quarter came in at $1.26 million, but operating expenses of $1.3 million overshadowed that.

Taking the sting off the first-quarter report was an oversized check from SMG, the company contracted to manage the arena, for last year's profit. Arena general manager A.J. Boleski presented the county a check for $255,678, the county's portion of profits last year.

The downtown venue netted $705,678 last year, its second-best year since opening in 2010. More than $514,000 of that came in the last quarter, which featured top-selling events such as Wichita State, Kansas State and Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games and concerts by the Eagles and Blake Shelton.

SMG keeps the first $450,000 of any profit under its agreement with the county It also absorbs any operating losses -- a rare agreement hashed out between the county and the company that County Manager William Buchanan recently said may change when SMG's current contract expires at the end of next year.

Holt said SMG's contract will automatically renew if the company pays the county $1.7 million in the first five years of its management. Holt said SMG is close to hitting that target, paying out $1.62 million to the county as of Wednesday.

Holt said SMG and the county have not yet started discussions about a new contract. Holt said even if SMG doesn't hit the $1.7 million target, the county still could renew the agreement without going out for bid.

The county has been pleased with SMG's management, Holt said after the meeting Wednesday morning.

"They've done a good job for us," he said.

Some in the community, however, have been critical that the arena mostly attracts country music acts. Sporting events, especially college and professional basketball, have done well for the arena.

Styx and Foreigner played the arena Wednesday. Holt wore a concert T-shirt over his button-down business shirt, but when pressed, couldn't name a hit song from either band without help.

Upcoming events include Wichita Ribfest this weekend, a June 20 concert by James Taylor, a July 12 concert by Motley Crue and an Oct. 17 preseason game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)

Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com

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Source: Wichita Eagle (KS)


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