These are the annual operating surpluses and losses for the Youngstown-owned Covelli Centre.
2006: $541,298 loss
2007: $247,510 loss
2008: $310,435 loss
2009: $153,950 surplus
2010: $110,434 surplus
Sources: Covelli Centre, Vindicator files
Ryan expresses concern for this year
By David Skolnick
For the second-straight year, the city-owned Covelli Centre finished with an operating surplus.
The downtown entertainment facility ended 2010 with a $110,434 operating surplus, according to figures released Thursday by the city.
Eric Ryan, the facility’s executive director, said he is proud the center had an operating surplus in 2010, particularly in light of the conditions impacting the entertainment industry.
Rolling Stone, a magazine that covers the music business, recently published an article calling 2010 “the worst year in memory” for concert promoters with national attendance down about 25 percent.
Ryan isn’t very optimistic about the center’s finances this year.
“I definitely have concerns about 2011,” he said. “We’re finishing the budget now. But it may be break even at best. I’m very concerned about 2011 with the concert industry.”
But because the center had an operating surplus despite a difficult year for the entertainment business, Ryan said he is “more proud of these numbers” than the 2009 operating surplus of $153,950.
“Quite honestly, I feel very fortunate to have the numbers we had in the midst of this economy,” he said. “People just aren’t buying tickets like they used to, and tours just aren’t on the road.”
Before 2009 — the first full year of management by Ryan’s company, JAC Management of Struthers, and SMG of Philadelphia — the center had three-straight years of six-figure operating deficits. The worst was 2006, its first full year, with a $541,298 loss. The center opened in October 2005.
Also, the city received $218,429 last year from a 5.5 percent admission tax on tickets sold for events at the center. The city made $300,450 on that same tax in 2009.
The tax and the center’s operating surplus help offset the $662,830 the city owes this year in interest on $11.9 million it borrowed in 2005 to help fund the center’s construction costs.
To date, the city has paid only the interest and nothing toward the $11.9 million it borrowed.
As for the 2010 operating surplus, Kyle Miasek, the city’s finance director, said: “We’re very pleased. It’s a very difficult economic environment.”
Mayor Jay Williams praised Ryan and his staff for the surplus.
Big shows have contributed to the surplus in recent years.
In 2009, the Kelly Pavlik vs. Marco Antonio Rubio bout gave the arena a profit of about $75,000.
The most profitable show at the center in 2010 was the May 1 Elton John concert that made about $80,000 for the facility. Also, the three Walking With Dinosaurs shows May 4 and 5 turned a profit of about $50,000.
Ryan said he is in discussions with promoters of three major concert acts. If he can book just one of the shows, Ryan said, it could be as profitable as the John concert. He declined to name the acts.
With the center increasing its parking lot from 300 spaces to 700 in April 2010, it made $153,809 in parking revenue last year compared with $119,041 in 2009. Having all 700 spots available for 2011 should increase that revenue this year, Ryan said.
The summer continues to be a problem for the Covelli Centre as it is for most indoor entertainment facilities. The center lost $56,294 between July and September 2010. That’s the smallest operating loss for the center during the year’s third quarter.
“We need to find a way to compete in the summertime,” Ryan said.
Ryan said an amphitheater is “on my wish list,” but it’s too costly do build one at this point.