Events Center has lost it’s luster as I predicted

But guess what, we are stuck with the beautiful $10 Million dollar mortgage for the next 15 years;

Recently, however, there are signs that the venue’s initial luster has faded. The Premier Center is more profitable than ever, but ticket sales and attendance have failed to match the Garth Brooks-fueled bump of 2017. Along with turnover in management, there have been fewer sellouts, and a smaller portion of the acts coming to town are the big names blowing up box offices in other markets.

It’s a different market out there, not to mention the Denty has just been a money vacuum from day one;

City staff declined a request to interview Mayor Paul TenHaken for this story. 

I found this very odd since PTH has nothing to do with booking acts at the Denty. He is also not responsible for selling the white elephant to us. I can tell you why he turned down the interview, because he doesn’t have a clue what is going on out there.

And while it has proven to bring in more revenue (net operating) we never hear what the actual sales are. Why is that? Ticket sales and attendance is also down;

Pollstar ranked the Premier Center as the 84th top performing arena in 2017. But more recently Sioux Falls’ largest facility fell to 125th in 2018 and 136th in 2019.

Tickets sold also plummeted, according to Pollstar. Those fell from 239,089 in 2017 to 117,411 last year.

In 2019, just 43 percent, or nine out of the 21 concerts that performed at the facility, were ranked in Pollstar’s Top 100 worldwide acts ranking, which is based on ticket revenue a band or artist brings in. In 2018, 53 percent of Premier Center’s music entertainers cracked that list and in 2017, the last full year that Semrau did the booking, 72 percent of the 22 concerts were among Pollstar’s top-ranked acts.

Then Terry ‘left’;

Not long after, Torkildson himself left the Premier Center, though his departure came after being let go by ASM when it was still SMG.

Terry took a job a few months back up North and is already back in Sioux Falls. He promised me once he would give me an ‘off the record’ run down of what happened out there, than told me later he was just bluffing me. But he did tell me the interior walls of the Events Center are thinner than the walls of a Japanese cat house (those are my words, not his). He basically said, don’t lean to hard on them.

When acts return for a second or third time, it’s harder to sell out. People who have budgeted their money for entertainment find it more difficult to spend money on a performer who they’ve already seen live, Opp said.

That line right there explains why the Pavilion really hasn’t increased attendance much over the past 20 years, because they do the same stuff over and over, and still cater to a certain demographic and not the entire city.

The Denty was built for a small window of time, and once that clock runs out, we are still stuck with mortgage payments, maintenance and operating, whether we use it or not. But hey, we can’t afford to trim boulevard trees, because that is a ‘hand out’.



10 comments ↓

#1 "Woodstock" on 01.31.20 at 9:00 pm

“‘Japanese cat house?'”……”But anyway, I knew it was just a matter of time before Rock Rival Jeans and country music with a $10 beer would no longer be in vogue”…. (…. “Do you remember Girbaud Jeans?”….”I miss Girbauds”….)

#2 Warren Phear on 01.31.20 at 11:42 pm

I have always believed that every sold out denty event assured only one thing. Millions of dollars was jetted out out of town, never to be recirculated in SF again.

I have always been a subscriber to what Scott Hudson has to say about the entertainment industry.

<>

In words that the guy who gave us this “gift” can understand?

GAME. SET. MATCH.

#3 scott on 02.01.20 at 9:53 am

i found it amusing for the new management to say how bad a deal those initial sponsorships were. you will also notice now those are up, none of them were renewed, except maybe mcnally’s. walk around the place, and you will see the condition of the walls is not very good. same with the bar in the premier club. of course the shrine to heuther and t denty is well kept up. probably the main reason consession sales appear to be up, is because they raised prices by $1 across the board on everything. does the city release what the terms of the sponsorship deals are?

#4 Warren Phear on 02.01.20 at 11:53 am

Scott, I have never been in the place. Thought about it for McCartney, but decided not to go back on a pledge I’d made to myself. Curious, how much is a plastic cup of domestic tap beer and a hot dog?

#5 Scott D Hudson on 02.01.20 at 11:58 am

Thanks Warren!

#6 l3wis on 02.01.20 at 11:58 am

Last time I was there was $8 for 16 oz, I think it is $9 now.

#7 l3wis on 02.01.20 at 12:00 pm

Hudson, you should write me a guest post about it, would love to hear more about it.

fb.art@sio.midco.net

#8 D@ily Spin on 02.01.20 at 12:02 pm

It’s really just demographics. Baby boomers are to old and busy dying. Gen X is to lazy to work and can’t afford expensive entertainment. The latest generation works several jobs and barely makes rent. The Rap generations want small nightclubs. Their fans are busy with drive by’s and gang church. There’s not a relevant super star for the masses. Maybe Taylor Swift tho. Teen girls have bubble gum music but their allowance is only $5 a week.

Renovating the Arena would have worked. It was a fully depreciated asset. What sells now is monster trucks and cage fighting that doesn’t take a big Center.

Everything wrong points back to Huether. He used the city credit worthiness for foolishness. The next mayor should consider bankruptcy to erase this mess. It worked for a third of cities in CA. The economy was hot but soon not. Then, how can bond payments be made.

#9 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 02.01.20 at 6:03 pm

The shelf life of modern events centers will be short lived. Soon advanced holographic technology will allow you to invite Ozzy Osbourne into your family room as you and your friends sit back and watch him bite off the head of a bat.

#10 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.02.20 at 1:52 pm

Alot of the issues related to how many people can afford to attend paid events at the Event Center relate back to the people being unfairly taxed, and the tax rates being to high. We are a growing populous, with a economic boom like no other city. If we cut our “sales tax rate” by 12% down to 1.75% as a City – we allow people to keep $0.25 cents for every dollar they spend. Thats a huge burden lifted on the people, let alone the poor. As the population grows every year by 3,000 to 4,000 people, our sales tax still grows by $2,500,000 million a year. We take no loss here.

As for saving the ARENA – I have been a huge advocate for the Arena. We need to push to save it, and renovate it in such a way Sioux City has done with their old Auditorium. We do NOT utilize it as we should be doing and the CITY makes NO EFFORT of doing so cause the “Agenda’ is to tear it down for more parking. There is NO parking problem here if “WE” as a “People” actively work together and provide people rides to and from the Complex, open up our Private Properties to parking up and down Western and West Avenues, etc-etc.

The EVENT CENTER itself does have a huge “economic aspect” to the City of Sioux Falls. Not only did it increase the “Asset Value” of the City, it generates Sales Tax Revenues along with Other Excise Tax, Imposts, and Duties collected by people whom travel to Sioux Falls and spend the night, day, or week here in our Hotels, Retail Centers, Diners, etc-etc.

When you study our 2018 Comp Financial Reports and soon our 2019 Financial Reports – you will find that the CITY itself has a “Net Asset Position” of nearly $2,000,000,000 Billion Dollars. That is the mount left over after we pay all our Annual Expenses, Liabilities, the Debt, and all Future Employee Obligations. That is enough to pay each CITIZEN of Sioux Falls $10,500 dollars if we were to ever shutdown the City of Sioux Falls. We have NO REVENUE problem, in fact we have to much revenue, due to the fact we “OVER TAX” the citizens.

Not only do we collect currently $126-130,000,000 Million per year in Sales/Use Tax Taxes, we also pull from our share of Property Tax Collections another $65,000,000 per year, while we collect another $200,000,000 million in additional Excises, Imposts, and Duties as “people” transact with each other, meaning do business in Sioux Falls, and utilize the CITY Services paying to use the likes of our Water and Sewer Enterprise, City Light and Electricity Enterprise, the City Landfill, the City Public Parking Enterprise, and the Public Transportation Enterprise. All those “enterprises” carry huge margins, and are self sustainable.

Then there is the Debt factor – we borrow between $50-100,000,000 million a year from Bond Holders, the State, and Other Sources, while at the same time ‘we’ re-finance those BONDS freeing up more revenue.

We do NOT as a CITY need to file bankruptcy, we can simply sell off “ASSETS” to pay off that debt. Our Debt is quite sustainable due to our economic and population boom. I am not a huge fan of debt, we probally borrow to much versus to simply setting aside monies today for future costs tomorrow.

All Said and done, we need to better manage the First Premiere Center, take advantage of the Arena, and best manage the “ASSETS” we do have on the books, while at the same time if we must decide how much “revenue” we truly need to run this CITY.

Sincerely,
Mike Zitterich
(Sioux Falls)