The Journal Gazette
Saturday, August 01, 2020 1:00 am

Coliseum attendance cut in half

Pandemic cancellations break venue's growth streak

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The number of guests at Memorial Coliseum has declined considerably this year, breaking a decades-long streak of high event attendance, the venue's executive vice president said Friday.

Just this week, the Coliseum saw five major events – including a concert – cancel or postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Randy Brown, who is also the venue's general manager. The venue's total attendance dropped by 551,277 people so far this year, Brown added.

“We've lost more than half of our total attendance,” he said, adding that typical yearly attendance averages around 1.1 million people.

That ends a 29-year streak, during which the Coliseum's annual attendance was 1 million people or more, Brown said. The Coliseum's financial forecast remains the same, Brown said, which predicts the venue could lose between $2.9 million and $3.5 million in revenue this year.

Brown's remarks came during Friday's meeting of the Allen County Commissioners, who unanimously approved a $121,423 contract to replace the venue's 11-year-old outdoor marquee at the intersection of Coliseum Boulevard and Parnell Avenue.

The funds for that sign will come from the Professional Sports and Development Area fund, which cannot be used for operating costs. It acts as the Coliseum's capital fund, Brown said.

The Coliseum's cancellation list includes about 200 events through the end of the year, Brown said.

Entertainment industry experts say concert attendance is unlikely to rebound until 2022, Brown added, noting that the Coliseum has been working to reschedule events where possible. Some events have been rescheduled two or three times.

“We have been successful at shifting many events to 2021, so if indeed a vaccine is out in the fourth quarter of this year ... we could have a very good year next year,” he said.

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