A Closer look at the VenuWorks Report

By:  Diane Benjamin

The only hockey that still exist at the Coliseum is ISU.  VenuWorks is charging them $2,000 a game – the event report for ISU vrs Bradley shows 120 tickets were sold, 181 people who attended got in free.  https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=22627

The Flying Aces were charged $5,000 per game.  Since attendance was dismal, they no longer exist.  https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=21437

For some unknown reason the event reports for the arena are on the City website by calendar year instead of fiscal year.  Therefore it takes a little more work to show you exactly what was going on from 5/1/2018 through 4/30/2019.  (The 2019 fiscal year)

There are 28 events listed at this link during that time frame:    https://www.cityblm.org/government/advanced-components/documents/-folder-1694

17 of them are Flying Aces hockey that no longer exists.

At this link there are 29 events during the same time frame:   https://www.cityblm.org/government/advanced-components/documents/-folder-1612/-npage-2

16 of them are Flying Aces and 5 are Bloomington Edge who they charged $2500 per game.  That team is also defunct.

So, the Coliseum reported event income for 57 events, the participants in 38 of them no longer exist.  That means only 19 generated other income.  6 of those were ISU hockey, income is minimal.  That leaves 13 events in building that costs you around $2,000,000 a year just in bond payments.

10 of those 13 event warranted pics in the presentation VenuWorks made last Monday night – PDF pages 10-11:  https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=23151

All of the events held during the fiscal year are listed on PDF pages 12-18.  Look at the lists.  In case you didn’t notice, the narrative of the Coliseum has changed to a Community Asset and Quality of Life because it is big enough to hold free events like graduations.  Long forgotten is the promise of break-even, won’t cost you a cent, and it will pay for itself.

There is a great example of government double-speak on PDF page 26:

For the fiscal year ending April 30, 2019, VenuWorks reports a variance of a
positive $219,147 in Net Ordinary Income from the approved FY19 budget.
This was the first budget submitted by the current Executive and Finance
Directors of the Arena after two full seasons of operations, which provided
more accurate financial data and experience to base the budget upon.

variance of a positive”?

What they are claiming is they lost less that what was budgeted.  Of course the AUDITED financial statements have not been released so we don’t know if this is true of not.

The phraseology isn’t how accountants speak, it’s how people trying to bury a loss speak, even if it’s much better than expected.  Of course, looking at the number of shows they should have lost less.  Maybe they should turn off the lights and lock the doors more frequently.

Meanwhile, the trial of the former manager – John Butler – should finally start next month! 

12 thoughts on “A Closer look at the VenuWorks Report

  1. Bulldoze the coliseum. Bet those who use the ice rink can come up with a way through nonprofit to build their own. Bloomington throwing good money after bad over and over. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear that no one wanted in the first place. Paying Venuworks to keep losing money is a joke.

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  2. Just for clarification, did the large Fee Per Game cause the hockey teams to, “no longer exist?” Or, would they have ceased to exist regardless of the fee per game? If this is what caused them to disband, shame on VenuWorks. Chasing away business is hardly a good business model.

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      1. I’m surprised the horseshoe didn’t consider buying the team and running it themselves.

        (I must be in a snarky mood today.)

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  3. Bottom line is that the people voted against this knowing the potential cost, while the dreamers (council and mayor) had not a clue of how this would drain the city. If you build it they will come didn’t work for Bloomington, nor will the other financial fiasco projects for Normal or Bloomington. Maybe the money would be better used in fixing the roads so that visitors don’t laugh at our administrators as they go elsewhere.

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    1. I remember the phrase “it wont cost the taxpayers one thin dime” Every time I see one of their reports that flips thru my brain. Just remember this when the Court Jesters and their King push the Sports Complex. How much do you wanna bet the phrase will be uttered by the King?

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  4. What is never mentioned in leadership is that the Arena would actually lose less money by not operating at all. In other words, if they padlocked and boarded up the place, the cost to taxpayers would decline significantly. Of course, this won’t happen. Our so-called leaders, knowing this fact and having little confidence things will ever turn around, claim the Arena is a “quality of life” amenity (like a park) so as to attempt to remove from discussion the financials. Previously, the defensive posture of our leaders was to suggest that the Arena drives the Downtown and local economy. This doesn’t work anymore, as most people despise the Downtown cabal and their shenanigans. And, the average person knows that the Arena barely holds any events and the place is practically empty when it does. Those that do attend are locals and stay in their own house rather than a hotel.

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  5. How is Peoria able to keep the Civic Center open, maintain the Rivermen hockey team, and host quality events (Peoria Symphony, Broadway musicals, concerts, trade shows, etc.). What makes the Bloomington/Normal area different than the Peoria area in this regard?

    I have always thought that B/N was supposed to be the more vibrant, younger, up-and-coming, safer, and cleaner metro area compared to Peoria…….? What are the insurance company workers doing with their paychecks? Are they spending their free time sitting at home watching TV? I don’t get it.

    If I were king, I would transfer the Bloomington Arena to the park district and make it a family ice skating rink and youth hockey place…….

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