In my recent Slate article about the Seattle arena plans, I noted that 200 events a year is generally considered the point at which a typical arena can think about starting to turn a profit. Coincidentally, that’s the number of events that Chris Hansen is promising his arena will be able to host annually — and arena boosters in Virginia Beach have projected the same figure for their proposed arena.
So, how many events does a typical arena usually host in a year? I asked the International Association of Venue Managers, and they were happy to supply a figure: In 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available, arena managers reported that they averaged 111 “event days” per year. Out of 64 arenas responding to the IAVM survey only nine — 14% — said they were busy more than 200 days a year.
Obviously, there are exceptions: Madison Square Garden has reported hosting 320 events a year (though other sources say 225 or more than 600, so clearly the science of arena stats still has a ways to go). But for the vast majority of arenas, 100 events or so a year is a far more reasonable expectation than 200. Something for Seattle and Virginia Beach officials to consider.