City gets handle on SOEC costs

The management company which operates the four municipally-owned facilities at the South Okanagan Events Centre complex has more than met its budgetary expectations as of Feb. 28, according to the City of Penticton’s top treasurer.

City CFO Doug Leahy reported to council that two months into 2011 Global Spectrum is tracking at $64,564 below its budget.

Global is contracted by the city to manage all operations of the SOEC, the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, Memorial Arena and the Okanagan Hockey School at a subsidized budget of about $1.6 million — down approximately $100,000 from last year and roughly $600,000 from 2009.

Considering Global’s struggles to meet its 2010 budget, the positive financial report came as good news to council which itself has had to made tough fiscal decisions in the last year to reduce operational expenses at City Hall.

Coun. Mike Pearce, who chairs the city’s oversight committee of the complex, said the positive budget comes as a result of hard work and changes initiated by Global, the committee and the city. However, he was careful to note that the year is a long one.

“We don’t expect necessarily to maintain that far ahead because it goes up and down,” Pearce told council. “But for the present time ... we are ahead of the game, and that is even with the Vees playing in there with some poor attendance we have suffered.”

“(The budget) is in line with council’s ramping up the activity and ramping down the expenses at the complex.”

Pearce said so far the shows put on at the SOEC in 2011 have all made money.

“Cirque du Soleil will probably make money and the other one (the Elvis Fest Tribute) will probably make money as well,” said the former mayor. “We are trying to book more events. They pop up in five minutes and then we have to make a decision on them. So we are trying and hoping to get four or five more acts in there this year.”

However, noted Pearce, because Global is now only signing contracts with acts where there is a limited financial risk to the city, there has been less shows booked at the SOEC.

“The artist are demanding too high of a gate charge,” Pearce said. “So now we are going to do some promoting so the taxpayers are not backstopping the shows and we are going to watch the acts more closely, which is what has been happening.”

Indeed, according to Global Spectrum GM Dean Clarke, the management company, on behalf of the city, is in the infancy stages of developing a partnership to co-promote concerts with Cressman Sakamoto Agency after a successful co-presentation of iconic country singer Toby Keith in February.

The goal of the partnership will be to help bring acts to Penticton with less risk to the city’s bottom-line and make it easier to draw larger audiences to the facility and to the community, Clarke said.

“(CSA) have become partners in the risk and the revenue,” said Clarke, explaining that the company also helps get the artists booked on better dates. “There is more of an interest to work with our schedule (because) we want to make sure our dates make as much sense for our demographic as possible.”

Clarke said it is all part of a larger effort to refine the manner in which acts and events are booked, purchased and accounted for.

“We just want to make sure we have the ability to create the most value for the community, the local economy and the taxpayers of Penticton as possible,” Clarke said.


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