Coliseum ends 2016 in black, attracts 1 million for 26th straight year
By Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel
Despite a slight decrease in attendance, the Memorial Coliseum ended 2016 with an operating surplus of $44,044 — an increase of 22.7 percent over the previous year. And 2017 is already off to a good start, General Manager Randy Brown told Coliseum trustees Friday.
"When many arenas are a (financial) drain, we continue to have outstanding performance. It was a good year," Brown said, noting overall events were up by 24.3 percent even though total attendance of about 1.03 million represented a decrease of about 0.5 percent. Even so, it marked the 26th consecutive year the complex attracted more than 1 million visitors. The Coliseum's estimated impact on the local economy was $103.75 million, he added, up 0.4 percent.
Brown said the new conference center performed better than expected, but said weather and performance of the Coliseum's sports teams can also affect attendance. The Mad Ants basketball team did not make the playoffs last year, but the Indiana University-IPFW basketball game on Nov. 22 was a sell-out, with about 11,500 people seeing Fort Wayne's overtime upset.
January events have attracted larger crowds than a year ago, Brown said, including an increase of nearly 12 percent at the just-completed farm show — the 5th-most ever. Seven concerts have been booked for 2017, with more on the way, including one that "may be the biggest we've had," Brown said.
Recent improvements were completed at or below budget, including $645,800 in improvements to the ticket office and training rooms and a $1.23 million upgrade to the rotunda plaza. Coming this year are $1.2 in upgrades to the security area and the arena's 25 suites and a new marque for $49,879. A new scoreboard will be needed in 2018 because replacement parts are no longer available.
"I just hope it can make it (that long)," Brown said.