Trying to break even

Civic Center uses city subsidies to cover expenses

By Gena Latrell

<p class="p1">While the Lake Charles Civic Center keeps a full schedule during the year, the complex requires extensive subsidies for its operation, according to city budget reports dating back to at least 2010.</p><p class="p6">Since 2010, the city has had to subsidize nearly $1 million each year to cover expenses the center has accrued in excess of its revenue. </p><p class="p6">Operated by the city, the Civic Center hosted 347 events in 2017. Civic Center employee Jennifer Paggen told the <em>American Press</em> that the facility took in $943,318 from its facility rentals, concessions, ticket sales and other sources in 2017. It also received $940,000 in state revenue sharing money.</p><p class="p6">This was far less than the center’s actual expenses, which totalled $2,833,378. The total subsidy in 2017 was $950,060. </p><p class="p6">Using the subsidy from city funds allows the Civic Center to break even each year, Paggen said. She said the subsidy “will vary depending on the revenues and expenses for the year.” </p><p class="p6">This practice dates back to 2010 and continues. </p><p class="p6">For fiscal year 2010-2011, the city budgeted $1,040,150 from a TRSF general fund and a TRSF Civic Center capital fund to cover the facility’s expenses; in 2011-12, the city budgeted $1,052,887; in 2012-13, $1,114,293; in 2013-14, $1,133,033; in 2014-15, $812,284; in 2016-17, $790,918; 2017-18, $958,334.</p><p class="p6">The city has already budgeted about $1 million for 2018 to cover expenses it expects the center will not meet with revenue alone, but Matt Young, public information officer for the city, said the Civic Center will need less help this year.</p><p class="p6">“According to Civic Center Manager Jim Pottorff, the Civic Center will end the fiscal year with (less) operating expenses … requiring less than a $500,000 subsidy from the city of Lake Charles for 2018,” Young said.</p><p class="p7"><strong>Burton Complex</strong></p><p class="p6">The Burton Complex — owned by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury — hosted 283 events in 2017. The complex made $1,365,719 from facility rentals and concessions. That amount, plus revenue from a parishwide property tax and associated fees, totals $4,141,308 in revenue last year. After expenses, the complex made a profit of $40,000.</p><p class="p6">Tammy Bufkin, parish finance director, said these figures are not unusual.</p><p class="p6">“There’s almost always more needs than revenue,” she said. “With the (Burton) complex, you just don’t want to lose money.”</p><p class="p7"><strong>West-Cal Arena</strong></p><p class="p6">The West-Cal Arena &amp; Events Center, which is run by the West Calcasieu Parish Community Center Authority, hosted “450 event days,” according to Executive Director Adrian Moreno. </p><p class="p6">“Some were multiple-day events; others were multiple-event days,” he said.  </p><p class="p6">The center took in $635,000 from renting its facilities, concessions, admissions, etc. That amount, monies from a Calcasieu Police Jury Cooperative Endeavor Grant and revenue from the state-collected hotel-motel tax, made the center’s total take-in $2,118,000 for 2017. After expenses, the center made a profit of about $123,000. These numbers are unofficial until an audit has been completed.</p>

<em>This is the fourth in a four-part series of stories focusing on the economic impact of event centers in Southwest Louisiana.</em>

””<p>Head on over to the 29th Annual Cajun Music &amp; Food Festival July 15-16, 2016 at the Burton Coliseum Complex to get your fill of a variety of Cajun specialties! This festival aims to preserve the Cajun traditions and heritage through music, dancing, and food. Savory Cajun dishes including jambalaya, gumbo, cracklins and more will be in high supply at this event, along with raffles, a live auction, arts and crafts booths, cake walks and games for the kids. The event at Burton begins Friday, July 15, 2016, at 5:00 PM and features two Cajun Bands performing until the event closes at 11:00 PM. Saturday, July 16, 2016, the doors open at 8:00 AM with 5 Cajun Bands performing throughout the day and ends at 11:00 PM. The festival will end with a free Cajun mass on Sunday morning, July 17 at the CFMA Building on 3481 E Prien Lake Road. Find out more about this traditional Cajun event at or call (337) 540-6417.</p>Rick Hickman””<p>Sulphur High junior Rhett Goodner won two of three rounds to win the cutting championship on Tuesday at the Louisiana High School Finals Rodeo at the Burton Complex in Lake Charles (Rodrick Anderson/American Press)</p>””<p>Couples hit the dance floor at the 28th annual Cajun Music &amp; Food Festival at the Burton Coliseum Complex  in July 2015. (Rick Hickman / American Press Archives)</p>