Seattle, Virginia Beach arenas counting on nearly double national average in annual events

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.

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7 comments on “Seattle, Virginia Beach arenas counting on nearly double national average in annual events

  1. You know, with all those empty seats in the new stadium, I think you have a real #eastwooding opportunity. Don’t screw it up, Neil.

  2. Curious what the average is for NBA/NHL arenas. Denver might be a good comparison for Seattle. That being said, I’ve always thought that 200 days was a stretch unless you have a higher demand/supply ratio (like the MSG example you cited).

  3. The idea that most of the proposed NBA arenas are NBA/NHL arenas is getting old.

    The NBA will say that the proposal is for an NBA/NHL arena to sell their proposal. The NHL part goes away as soon as the NBA gets the free public money.

    The NBA uses the NHL in a cynical marketing ploy. Take Seattle’s NBA arena proposal, it first came out with a requirement for an NHL team, then after a Review Panel (which stated the requirement for an NHL team is needed), the NHL requirement was taken out, then the NBA arena proponents stopped even mentioning the NHL.

    An NHL team, or prospective NHL team owners, were never a part of the investment group of the Seattle proposal. The Seattle proposal was all NBA from the start.

    The NHL was mentioned at the start in order for Hansen to get added support for his NBA arena. The Hansen PR touted the requirement for the NHL, then kept it quiet about the removal by Hansen of the NHL requirement in the MOU. Hansen manipulated information to cynically gain support from NHL fans. Seattle has been consistantly lied to by Hansen, and germane information is not forthcoming from Hansen.

    The NBA/NHL arena is a scam hustle in regards to the NHL part. Don’t think so? How many proposed NHL publicly funded arenas are there? Not an NBA/NHL arena, but a NHL/NBA arena. A proposal for a publicly funded NHL arena with the NBA as the secondary team? Does not happen. There already are supposed NBA/NHL arenas with no NHL teams, and no NHL team on the horizon.
    The NHL component of these NBA arena proposals are nothing but an NBA sales tactic.

  4. Jhande’s comments unfortunately have a ring of truth to them. Mention of the NHL angle seems to exist on the basis of media and fans mention only; the NHL itself appears eager to play the same game while pumping dead air into its Phoenix hole. This is likely just another ‘progression’ by developers/sports moguls who’ve realized that the simple ‘hold out the hat and threaten to move’ angle needed a new wrinkle to squeeze tax payers money to fund new or refurbished buildings. That said, I think Seattle would be an excellent addition to the NHL and would benefit from thousands of priced-out fans from the Greater Vancouver area, plus the Pacific Northwest region.

  5. An arena developer propose both NBA and NHL for an arena and then not follow through ? How many times will this happen to seattle ? … 1990, 1995 (key renovation tailored for the NBA and shut out hockey seating)… 2012?

    Take 2
    The conclusion of the lawsuit seemingly put an end of any hopes of bringing an NHL team to Seattle, but that changed in December of 1989 when the NHL announced a new round of expansion for the 1992-93 season. Two groups quickly established themselves as contenders for a Seattle franchise. The first was financed by Microsoft millionaire Chris Larson and led by former Seattle Totem Bill MacFarland. The other was headed by Bill Ackerley, son of Seattle Supersonics owner Barry Ackerley. Ackerley had already applied for a franchise and the two camps decided to pool their resources. While the $50 million expansion fee was much steeper than faced by Abbey 15 years earlier, the group had the money as well as additional funds to cover the necessary operating expenses for the first five seasons.

    Things appeared to be proceeding smoothly through the summer and into the fall of 1990. Larson and MacFarland met with the NHL Board of Directors in October and the Seattle group gave a great presentation. The directors loved the fact that a Microsoft millionaire was bankrolling the project and that a new state-of-the-art arena was under discussion with the city. Pat Quinn, who had played under MacFarland on the 1966-67 WHL championship Seattle Totems squad, was particularly helpful and told his former coach that Seattle was a “lock” for a team in the first round of expansion.

    The presentation to the Board of Governors took place on December 5. The Seattle contingent consisted of four representatives: MacFarland, Larson, Barry Ackerley, and Bill Lear, a financial advisor for Ackerley. They met for breakfast and discussed their strategy, then adjourned to a room to await their turn to present.

    Gil Stein, Vice President and General Counsel of the NHL, came to escort the group to the meeting. Ackerley then made a strange request. He asked if he and Lear could speak to the Board first in private before the others did their portion of the presentation. It was a complete surprise – they had not discussed this over breakfast, but MacFarland and Larson reluctantly agreed. After all, the application was in Ackerley’s name, so he had the final say. Ackerley and Lear proceeded to the meeting room with Stein while the others waited nervously for their turn. Ten minutes later Stein returned with a strange story. Apparently Ackerley introduced himself to the Board and informed them that the Seattle group was withdrawing its application. No reason was given. Ackerley and Lear then left the room through another exit.

    MacFarland and Larson were stunned. The failure to get an application in their names had proven to be a fatal flaw and gave Ackerley the opportunity to pull the rug out from under them. The pair were allowed to make their pitch anyway, but they left Florida highly discouraged by the turn of events. Franchises were eventually awarded to Ottawa and Tampa Bay, though neither group was ever able to come up with the full $50,000,000 fee, a fee the Seattle group was prepared to pay in full.

  6. The disparity in numbers for MSG is most likely due to there being smaller concert halls as part of the compex.

  7. What is the average # of events for arenas with two co-anchors? As far as I know, there are 10 US arenas with 2 or more anchor tenants. Staples being the only one with more than 2 anchors.

    I’ve always been surprised how much Hansen has been weaving the NHL in to the conversation, it is probably because that is the only way he breaks even. Don Levin confirmed that he did talk to Hansen about the potential NHL team and he also said Hansen has talked to multiple people interested in bringing a team to Seattle. Hansen confirmed on a separate radio show that he has talked to potential NHL owners but ideally the NHL is multiple years behind the NBA since the NHL relies on ticket sales much more than the NBA does.

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