Record year for Covelli Centre

Published: Wed, March 13, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By David Skolnick


For the city-owned Covelli Centre, 2012 was a record year.

In 2012, the center more than doubled its best annual operating surplus.

“It was an excellent year for the facility,” said Eric Ryan, the center’s executive director.

The center finished last year with a $320,787 operating surplus, easily surpassing its previous best year of $153,950 in 2009.

“We’re moving in the right direction, and we see a good future for the center,” said city Finance Director David Bozanich.

The city also received $163,398 last year from a 5.5 percent admission tax on tickets sold at the arena.

Between the operating surplus and the admission tax, the center made $484,185 in 2012.

The city paid $325,000 last year toward the principal of an $11.9 million loan it borrowed in 2005 as its share of the $45 million facility. It also borrowed $113,250 last year for an interest payment on that money. The 1 percent interest rate is the lowest in the center’s history.

The operating surplus and admission tax for 2012 was $45,935 more than the principal and interest on the city’s loan. It was the first year since the center opened in October 2005 that the surplus and tax exceeded the loan’s principal and interest.

The center is expecting an operating surplus this year of about $300,000 and about $175,000 to $200,000 in admission tax, Ryan said.

“We expect this year to be as strong as well, and looking at what we have on the books, we feel pretty good about reaching those numbers,” he said.

The city is pleased with the center’s finances for 2012, and expects this year to be a profitable one, Bozanich added.

The 2012 year-end numbers weren’t provided to The Vindicator until Monday, about a month behind the center’s typical schedule for producing those figures. An audit of the center’s finances largely led to the delay, Ryan said.

The center had 94 events with nearly 200,000 people in attendance in 2012. Also, the Youngstown State University Community Room was used 85 times last year for events such as meetings, parties and company seminars.

Some of the major shows at the center in 2012 included concerts by Miranda Lambert; Eric Church; Sugarland; Earth, Wind & Fire; Bob Dylan; Kenny G; and Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. The first three were sold-out shows with the others near-sellouts. Other sellouts were two Disney on Ice shows, three Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shows, and a monster-truck event.

The center set a goal last year for its sales department to sell $100,000 more in arena advertising and sponsorships, such as naming rights, Ryan said. The department exceeded that goal, bringing in $542,602 last year compared with $369,805 in 2011.

Until earlier this year, the city always has reported Covelli Centre results on a cash-accrual accounting basis. Mayor Charles Sammarone recently has argued that in terms of an annual impact — because interest payments and city processes lag a year — the facility lost $430,000 this year. However, by moving that interest payment, the city would expect a higher profit in 2013.

On Tuesday, he said he was happy with the results.

“It shows Eric is continuing to do a good job” said Sammarone. “It’s doing better [than the previous year], and it will continue to do better.”

The center finished 2006, its first full year of operations, with a $541,298 deficit under previous management.

Combining the operating surplus and the admission tax — the latter didn’t exist until October 2007 — the center had a financial turnaround of more than $1 million last year compared with 2006.

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