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Posted on Tue. Jan. 08, 2013 - 12:31 am EDT

Coliseum broadens influence

Attendance down slightly but economic gain grows

Although attendance at Memorial Coliseum dipped slightly last year, the economic impact increased, Coliseum board members heard Monday.

In addition, although final numbers are not yet in, the Coliseum will net a a profit of at least $40,000 for 2012, General Manager Randy Brown said.

“This is good news,” Brown said. “This compares to other venues such as the one in Evansville that is losing $300,000 a year or Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis which is losing $10 million a year.”

The number of people attending events slipped by less than a half-percent in 2011 compared with the previous year, Brown said.

More than 1 million people visited the facility last year – 4,639 fewer than in 2010, Brown said. But the economic impact of those visitors was $116 million, a nearly 17 percent increase, he said.

He attributed that to the diversity of the many programs and events hosted at the Coliseum.

“We have a good mix of diversified events and entertainment,” he said.

People visiting Fort Wayne for the events – such as July’s Gold Wing Riders convention – stay at hotels, visit attractions and eat out, Brown said.

“I think Visit Fort Wayne will back me up on this,” he said. “Those kind of conventions have a huge economic impact.”

Brown said he and his management team is constantly adapting to trends and doesn’t hesitate to take risks, and that, in part, has led to an increase in events.

“If we hadn’t taken a risk and partnered with IPFW to bring Aung San Suu Kyi to Fort Wayne in September, it would not have happened,” he said.

Coliseum officials have already managed to contract nine concerts for this year, including Carrie Underwood, Journey, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown and Kid Rock.

And there are more concerts and events in the hopper, Brown said.

“We are evolving,” he said. “The way we do business now is totally different from five years ago and it will be different five years from now.”

A round of improvements scheduled this year includes renovated restrooms and expansion of food concessions on the second-floor arena, Brown told board members.

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