Reported by Debra Smith / Herald Writer
City leaders hoped Comcast Arena would revive a stagnant downtown when it opened in the fall of 2003. Originally known as the Everett Events Center, it’s a public arena, community ice rink and conference space with towering twin masts and is now a recognizable symbol of Everett. It’s brought big-name acts to the city such as Justin Bieber, Cher and Santana. Next month, the spotlight focuses on Everett when Comcast Arena hosts an international gymnastics event. Here’s how the facility is governed and what the balance sheets show.
Who owns Comcast Arena?
The Everett Public Facilities District, a municipal corporation, was created to own and oversee the $71.5 million arena. The district took on $54 million in debt to build the facility, and final payment is scheduled for 2036.
A board of five volunteers, appointed by the Everett City Council, governs the district. A private company, Global Spectrum, will be paid more than $150,000 this year to manage day-to-day operations. That includes hiring, maintenance, event booking and marketing. In 2027, ownership of the events center passes to the city of Everett.
How it makes money
The arena makes most of its money from events, concessions, catering and an indoor community ice rink. Three sports teams call Comcast Arena home, and the arena earns a portion of every game ticket and hot dog sold. The arena couldn’t survive financially without other revenue, including tax dollars and city and county grants. The arena’s debt payment last year was $845,000.
People aren’t attending as many concerts and hockey games. Businesses aren’t spending like they used to on advertisements. But the arena is still pulling in enough revenue to pay its bills — barely. In 2011, the arena had income of $329,869. That’s down more than $1.1 million from the year before. The arena takes any revenue remaining after expenses are paid and stashes it in a reserve account for lean years. Right now there’s $1.3 million in that account. See the sequence of images at upper right for more data.
• A naming-rights agreement with Comcast Cable Management provides $325,000 annually plus other benefits.
• The Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips, the arena’s main tenant, provides around a half-million dollars a year in revenue.
• Debt left on the arena: $51.9 million.