City inspects budget

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The City of Bossier City will be funding a hefty loss in the CenturyLink Center’s 2014 budget.

Reports presented to the city council last week show that the CenturyLink Center is reporting a loss of more than $450,000. Joe Buffington, Director of Finance for Bossier City, said the city is “obligated to fund that deficit” because of the city’s contract with the entertainment venue.

Brodie McMahon, General Manager of the CenturyLink Center, said profits rely on programming and events, ticket sales and potential sponsorships.

“We get a variety of shows touring every year. Few of those will draw in large market crowds like George Strait or The Eagles,” McMahon told the city council. “We do get the higher number shows, but we’re filling in the dates around those with smaller shows because there is revenue to be made.”

However, councilman Don Williams disagreed.

“It isn’t worth opening up if we don’t get 5,000 people or more. We’re footing the bill because of that,” Williams said.

McMahon said a venue like the CenturyLink Center does have appeal in the large show market, offering a space for events that can seat anywhere from 2,500 to 14,000 people. The venue also has the capability of hosting a wide range of event – basketball games, rodeos, concerts and public gatherings, such as Bossier’s high school graduations.

McMahon told the council that even a 2,000 member crowd brings in about $1 million, including ticket prices, merchandise sales and concession stand profits.

Williams said the CenturyLink Center needs to make at least $3.5 million a year to break even. Councilman Tommy Harvey also questioned by there isn’t a fee for parking.

McMahon said a parking fee would create an additional revenue source and that it’s “something that can be visited” at a later time. He hopes the venue’s history with big name shows will prove to be an asset in the market, potentially attracting bigger shows in the future.

“Keith Urban is a great example because we sold 10,000 seats,” McMahon said. “We just need more people in the building and higher attendance numbers at shows.”

Buffington said the loss will be funded by the hotel motel taxes collected by the city.

The city’s general fund budget for 2014, however, will equal old revenues with the two largest revenue sources still being the sales tax and property tax. The only difference, Buffington said, is the head count is down in various departments.