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Struggling venue may turn to hoops

Parks and rec official says basketball games could boost revenue.

May 12, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

CITY HALL — The historic Civic Auditorium could host indoor basketball games under a proposal meant to attract more users to the revenue-starved city facility.

Built in 1938, the Civic Auditorium is a 25,000-square-foot multilevel facility that the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department rents out for meetings, performances and other events. But the facility has long struggled to attract enough business to break even, losing about $350,000 last year alone.

This year, the auditorium has continued to struggle financially despite a slew of revised rental rates and marketing efforts aimed at turning it into a potential money maker for the city.

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Previous proposals have focused on luring a range of events, from birthday parties to business meetings. At a City Council budget meeting Monday, the director of the Community Services & Parks Department, George Chapjian, suggested adding basketball to the mix.

Parks officials, he said, have been looking at converting the 11,000-square-foot upper auditorium to function as a temporary indoor basketball court.

“We will be very cognizant that this is a historic structure and not alter it in any way,” Chapjian said.

The demand for basketball court rentals from local sports organizations far exceeds available space, Chapjian said. Revenue from the venture could bring in up to $200,000 annually.

“That’s a really big need in our community, and we can really see some huge revenue from that,” he said.

Parks officials have also discussed potentially contracting with a private banquet hall operator to bring in more funds, an idea that encountered less enthusiasm from the City Council.

“There are all kind of facilities that this city has that aren’t necessarily money makers,” Councilman John Drayman said. “So I’m a little concerned about that.”

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Laura Friedman advocated for taking a broader look at the facility and whether renovations could make it more financially viable in the long term.

“I think it would be great to see some real comprehensive plans for it,” she said.


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