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50 Dark Nights for Key Arena

As reported in the Seattle Times, Tuesday there was a briefing and presentation to the Seattle City Council sub-committee on Parks on the Century 21 Master Plan for the Seattle Center, Key Arena as part of the briefing
KeyArena struggles to fill vacant Sonics schedule
Seattle's KeyArena is stepping up its efforts to fill its calendar now that the Sonics have left town, with modest success so far.

Those 100 nights that freed up at KeyArena when the Sonics left — most of them are still free.

Without the basketball season as its anchor, KeyArena can expect to book about 30 percent fewer dates each year than in the past, officials said. To pump up its marketing efforts, Seattle Center may hire a professional booking agency to run the arena's calendar.

But so far, replacing game nights with other events has been slow going. Thirty-five dates have been booked since a July 2 settlement allowed the Sonics to head off to Oklahoma City, said Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust.

There will be holes in the schedule, and they will pay somebody to find events to fill those dates = lose, lose.

Although the Sonics played only 41 home games each season, KeyArena reserved 100 nights to give the NBA scheduling flexibility. So the Sonics' move to Oklahoma City blew KeyArena's schedule wide open.

After losing both the Sonics and the Thunderbirds minor-league hockey team, which moves to Kent in January, officials said they can now anticipate being able to fill KeyArena 80 to 110 nights out of the year, down from the past estimate of 130 to 160.

The combined deficit from the sports events accounts for 77 nights, so the net loss of 50 reflects the expectation that about 27 can be replaced.

"There's no way we could replace every basketball game we lost," Daoust said.

A renewed marketing push should produce new bookings within the next several months, said City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council's Parks and Seattle Center Committee.

Because most major concerts are booked two years ahead, July was short notice to start filling dates starting in November, Daoust said.

There will be holes in the schedule, and they will pay somebody to find events to fill those dates = lose, lose.

Since most booking has to be done long in advance, City Council President Richard Conlin said he would expect major progress by early fall, but that wouldn't translate into filling a lot of dates until the beginning of next year.

He looked clueless saying it.

"In 2009, the arena will be able to actually be returning revenue," he said. "2008 is much more complicated."

In a briefing to the City Council on Tuesday, Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams said the arena can remain profitable by seeking out high-volume, high-margin events. If the arena is dark more often, he said, that doesn't necessarily hurt its profitability because operating costs also shrink.

But that does mean some arena employees, such as ushers and vendors, can expect less steady work, Daoust said. It also could hurt the businesses, especially the restaurants, bordering on Seattle Center who rely on KeyArena events to attract foot traffic to the lower Queen Anne area.

There will be holes in the schedule, and they will pay somebody to find events to fill those dates, fewer people will have less to do = lose, lose, lose some jobs.

I watched the sub-committee meeting online, Richard Conlin finally came to the realization that there will be less activity at Key Arena.
he asked Mr Nellams how many events are planned for 2009, the answer was that they would try to fill the Sonics dates on short notice, and the Thunderbirds planned leave, but between 80 and 120 are the amount of evens.
Here is a summary exchange NOT reported in the Seattle PI:
What was it before?
120 to 160.
So, the 80-120 is with some of the Sonics dates filled?
Will the arena lose money?
No, the service on the debt is gone, so any event the makes money generates positive revenue. There will be a loss in labor, few events mean fewer people to support them.

In a strange way, Bennett leaving should paint an interesting picture next year for those running for re-election and the arena lights off 40-60 times a year.
How many meetings did the council have on the Sonics leaving, resolutions, the Licata pseudo-study, public statements. Well Seattle City Council, welcome to the white elephant. It doesn't even have a competing venue in the city, just don't ask why Seattle will sometimes still get bypassed on some tours.

It's the arena, stupid.

You can watch the briefing HERE!