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Elected officials learn about Expocentre renovations, revenue increases
February 15, 2019
As seen in the McPherson Sentinel, by Morgan Chilson and Tim Hrenchir (Feb 14th, 2019).
The company that manages the Kansas Expocentre brought Shawnee County taxpayers more than $800,000 in savings in its first 16 months, Expocentre general manager Kellen Seitz told county commissioners Thursday.
“What we’ve been able to achieve is nothing short of amazing,” said Seitz, who works for Philadelphia-based venue management company Spectra.
The announcement came after the board of the Joint Economic Development Organization heard an update Wednesday evening on the Expocentre’s planned $48 million renovation project, for which construction begins in May and is expected to finish by May 2021.
Chuck Smith, with HTK Architects, told Topeka and Shawnee County elected officials who serve on the JEDO board that the project to modernize and expand the Expocentre will set the more than 30-year-old facility on a path that will “offset the operational deficit that’s subsidized by taxpayers.”
Smith shared an updated timeline for the project while telling how plans call for the county to expand Exhibition Hall and the equine area while creating a new entry for Landon Arena.
A new Endzone bar will be created, concession stands will be renovated, seats will be replaced and significant deferred maintenance will be carried out, Smith said.
Seitz told the JEDO board that Expocentre staff has been working with HTK Architects and McCownGordon, the project’s construction manager, to ensure all scheduled events can continue as renovations are carried out.
He said Spectra had brought county taxpayers savings totaling more than three-quarters of a million dollars.
“That’s real money that Shawnee County taxpayers have been paying out to operate this facility in the past,” he said.
JEDO board member and Councilman Jeff Coen said he has been serving on the Expocentre board and was impressed by the changes.
“When I started there, the reports each month — it was just bad news after bad news, and I really think Spectra has really turned this around,” he said.
Seitz provided county commissioners figures Thursday indicating Spectra saved county taxpayers $806,821 in its first 16 months of management compared to the county’s 2017 Expocentre budget allocation.
Those savings were realized through increased event revenue, expanded partnership opportunities and refined operational efficiencies, Seitz said.
He attributed some of the improved revenue figures to partnerships being formed with the community.
For instance, Skyzone recently signed a three-year contract to obtain branding rights to all of the Expocentre’s box office and atrium area. Seitz said he expects to see more partnerships like that developed.
Seitz told commissioners that Spectra in its first 16 months brought in $375,412 in partnership revenue.
He said $98,158 had been the most partnership revenue the Expocentre had realized in any one year during the five years before Spectra assumed management.
Seitz’s financial figures covered the time from Sept. 1, 2017 — when Spectra began managing the Expocentre — through Jan. 1, 2019.
During that period, Spectra brought in “countless top-tier shows,” including Cirque du Soleil, concerts, family shows, sporting events and an appearance at a rally by President Donald Trump, the Expocentre said in a news release Thursday.
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