Abbotsford Centre financial numbers show more improvement

Facility requires smallest taxpayer subsidy since construction.

Ticket sales at the Abbotsford Centre decreased in 2017, but so too did the facility’s cost to taxpayers.

According to an annual report presented to council Monday, a total of 106,730 people attended paid events in 2017, down slightly from the 115,818 who attended the previous years, but still far above 2015 numbers.

Meanwhile, the net operating loss of $882,662 was lower than the $931,000 loss posted in 2016, and the lowest subsidy in the venue’s history.

That news pleased council.

“Getting the subsidy to the level it is is really important to our citizens and it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and everybody pulling in the same direction,” Coun. Sandy Blue said.

Coun. Ross Siemens pointed to the broader economic impact of events in the facility, while Coun. Dave Loewen noted that the Abbotsford Centre now costs taxpayers less than many other recreational facilities – an improvement from the years immediately after its construction when the facility and a subsidy for the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat was costing the city millions of dollars.

• • • • •

Jerry Seinfeld’s performance, the highest grossing event of 2017, broke the facility’s records for both ticket sales and gross revenue. The Harlem Globetrotters appeared four times at Abbotsford Centre, each time drawing between 2,300 and 4,000 people, with total gross revenue close to $500,000.

Ten of the year’s 52 events were sold out, including the I Love The 90’s concert that featured Vanilla Ice and Salt-N-Pep and saw nearly 7,000 take in the event.

Around half as many people attended non-ticketed events in 2017 than did in 2016.

But while attendance was slightly down, those who did walk through the Abbotsford Centre doors were eating and drinking much more.

Vendors handled 65,461 pounds of popcorn, 2,237 hamburgers, and 3,461 orders of chicken tenders. They also sold a total of 66,043 beers, up 30 per cent from the previous year, although craft beer sales lagged that of 2016.

A survey of visitors found that around a third of concert attendees were from Abbotsford, with most coming from Metro Vancouver cities. Around one-in-five attendees stayed overnight in the city, with about half staying in a hotel or other commercial accommodation and the other half bunking with friends or family.

The survey also suggests the facility is shinier, with just six per cent of survey respondents giving a low ranking to the facility’s cleanliness.

That’s an improvement from the 25 per cent who thought cleanliness wasn’t good last year.

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