BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — It’s a staple in downtown Battle Creek, but for most of its 32-year run, the Kellogg Arena has failed to turn a profit. In fact just last week, the city commission took steps to eliminate some debt at the arena, and even re-invest in some upgrades.
Officials at the arena said that the facility loses about $30,000 a year, but said the economic impact on surrounding businesses is just one reason it’s still a city priority.
Former Battle Creek Mayor Ted Dearing took over as general manger of the Kellogg Arena in June. Dearing said that it’s no secret the arena has a lot of competition when it comes to booking acts.
“In this region there is a lot of competition. There is a variety of buildings such as the buildings in Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids, Lansing, Jackson, etc., who can provide similar amenities,” he said.
Dearing said that the arena provides a $10,000,000 dollar economic boost to businesses in the downtown area.
“Although a concert is very good for the arena’s bottom line, a three-day event like a convention is much better for the community’s bottom line because people are here longer, they spend more money at restaurants, they spend more money on hotels, they spend more money at our local shopping districts,” said Dearing.
Dearing is hopeful a $3,000,000 dollar tax-payer funded renovation will help spruce-up the facility, and attract more event promoters. Most of the money will be spent on a new roof, new seating and renovated restrooms.
“It’s an older facility at this point. It was opened in 1982, and they knew we were at a point where it was going to take some investment, some capital expenditure to get the facility positioned for the next 15 or 20 years of success,” said Dearing.
Battle Creek Vice Mayor Debrah Owens voted in favor of the funding, but said that changes need to be made.
“If they don’t come out of this deficit, or if they go deeper into a deficit, I would certainly reconsider where I vote on it next time around,” she said.
Owens said that she is hopeful with Dearing at the helm, the arena will be able to turn a consistent profit for the first time in its history.
“We’ve got to see some improvements, some changes. We’ve got to see them come to a flat-line at least or go above,” Owens said.
Dearing said that for a concert event that includes general admission floor seating, the arena can hold approximately 6,200 people.