With Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai packed up and headed out of town after a successful run, it’s a good time to have a look back at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
It’s not that long since the SOEC first opened its doors to the public in September 2008, but it is hard to imagine Penticton without it.
It hasn’t always been that way, though.
The SOEC had a bumpy ride getting to this point. It was a battle for proponents to convince the community it should be built in the first place, and then rising construction costs as the walls went up during a provincial building boom had many questioning whether it should have been built.
But there are few who would still be willing to call the building a white elephant. Mistakes have been made along the way — many of which have been reported on in the pages of the Western News. The Rihanna concert in 2010 stands out as a major turning point.
Many in the community seemed to think the SOEC should have been a success from the start, but they were in for a disappointment regardless. It takes time to build this kind of business and figure out what kind of acts people want to see. It is something the staff at the SOEC have worked hard at solving and seem to have found the right mix to satisfy entertainment appetite’s up and down the Valley.
The social impact on Penticton has been as significant as the spin off income the SOEC generates in terms of hotel, restaurant and other purchases by visiting audience members.
Without the SOEC, Pentictonites would be the ones having to travel — and spending their money in another town — to see world-class performances like Varekai, the Steve Miller band, Florida Georgia Line or top sports events like the Canuck’s Young Stars tournament, along with providing a professional venue for our own Penticton Vees.