Do we really know the true expense of the Levitt Pavilion? (H/T-WP)

Thanks for Warren for finding this article from 2015 outlining what the Levitt Foundation will contribute to a project in Dayton;

Levitt would contribute 10 percent of the construction costs, or up to $500,000, followed by half the operating costs the first year. The annual contribution would decline thereafter. It’s hoped the pavilion could open as soon as July 2017.

Operating a Levitt pavilion costs about $500,000 annually. The foundation provides $500,000 in seed funding for construction and capital expenses and support resources. The foundation said it provides $1 million in the first five years of the pavilion’s operation.

After that, the foundation will provide about $150,000 annually in ongoing operational support to a nonprofit group formed to oversee the venue.

This is what has often puzzled me about the promises of the Levitt Foundation. Fifty Free ‘Professional’ concerts within basically a 4 month time period. Forget about the time frame in how you are going to get that many acts packed into that time frame, or that you are going to get 50 ‘professional’ acts to come to Sioux Falls to play, for a moment, let’s pretend that is achievable.

The bigger question is how is this going to be paid for? Remember, these are free concerts, similar to JazzFest. While I have a rough idea what JazzFest costs to put on, you have to remember, besides sponsors, advertisers, vendors, and the city chipping in services, the majority of the event if paid for by beer sales. Will Levitt have adult beverage sales at concerts? Will vendors have to pay a fee to sell their goods? I just don’t know how we are going to be able to maintain such a high level of concerts at the Levitt without digging into the city budget and having a major subsidy each year.

Something the city council needs to chew on before going full boar on this.



5 comments ↓

#1 Scott on 01.03.17 at 5:59 pm

I tried to do some research on this when it was first announced. I just wanted to know what they consider a “professional” act, as some people were expecting this to mean big name outdoor shows (and I knew better). So I looked up their facilities in other cities. What I found was sort of bizarre. Levitt seems to believe they are the star. I could find all kinds of info about how great their company is, or how wonderful their facilities are. But outside of the broad “includes many Grammy winners” I couldn’t find the name of one act that has played in that particular city’s venue. I’m sure somebody will now find more info than I did, but I think it’s safe to say that there won’t be much money spent on the performers.

#2 l3wis on 01.03.17 at 6:11 pm

Exactly. If you do the rough math, they figure a budget of $500,000 a year which would come to about $10,000 per concert, which could feasibly bring in a professional act, but not a Grammy winner.

But my bigger concern is how the Levitt Foundation drops off their sponsorships over a period of time. I think if they serve adult beverages at the events it would help to offset costs. But Bob’s Icee’s and Cotton Candy are not going to bring in a lot of dough.

#3 Bruce on 01.04.17 at 8:00 am

For this we should allow the city to give them the Park Department building after they move out? Sell the building to encourage commerce.

#4 Warren Phear on 01.04.17 at 10:25 am

The levitt pavilion story is interesting to me. It has been my experience in SF, nothing in the entertainment industry is free. You see a free admittance sign in SF, then buyer beware. You are about to enter a venue where no food or drink may enter, and then you are held captive to $2 water, $5 to $8 beers, and $2 an ounce finger food.

If you google “levitt pavilion faq”, you can see how other cities treat the question of outside food and beverages. Most allow it. Will NEVER be that way here. This town is all about beer sales revenue.

Which leads to another interesting point. 95% of the people in SF and the surrounding area are subject to stagnated wages. Entertainment dollars can be stretched only so many times. If I attend, lets say, just ten of the fifty “free” concerts, how likely is it I will also go to jazzfest? The denny? The district? Hot Harley Nites? Summer Nites? First Friday? Or any of the other of hundreds of entertainment spectacles this town has to offer? Remember, our entertainment dollars can only be spent one venue at a time. Saturation overkill will end it all , and render places like the denny and levit and huge drains on the taxpayer.

#5 Blasphemo on 01.04.17 at 1:08 pm

I also wonder if Levitt Foundation corps d’élite visited Falls Park West when the scent of eau de Morrells was engulfing the area. I’ve taken out-of-town visitors to Falls Park, and they think it’s pretty… but ask “What’s that SMELL??!!!”. It is what it is, and won’t likely be eliminated any time soon. But, for an outdoor event venue that’s scheduled for an event every 2-3 days during a 4-month period, there will be many occasions when that odor settles over the area. While the “improvement” to Falls Park West is desirable, it seems like a short-sighted choice for regular outdoor events given this air quality issue. Who wants to purposefully gravitate to spend time in that aroma?

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