Big Sandy Arena Has Multiplier Effect, City Budget Approval Resolution now on Monday Council Agenda

Updated 5 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Mayor Steve Williams and BSSA director Brian Sites explained to council how events such as last weekend's car show have a downtown economic multiplier effect.
Mayor Steve Williams and BSSA director Brian Sites explained to council how events such as last weekend's car show have a downtown economic multiplier effect.
Model: Selina Kyle; Photo: Glen Berry

Following the presentation of budget projections by streets, trash, the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, and the Huntington Municipal Parking Board, councilman Gary Bunn has agreed to sponsor a waiver of the rules to add a resolution to the Monday night council agenda to approve the fiscal 2013-2014 budget.

Mayor Williams during the final segment of the proposed fiscal year budget particularly stressed the significance of the $351,000 subsidy of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Acknowledging this is a "subsidy from the general fund," he explained "for every dollar put in , three dollars are spent," including a ripple effect that spreads from the BSSA event to retail, hotels, restaurants and parking. "Everyone of these pennies spin in to other areas," the Mayor explained.

Noting that the arena sometimes takes "educated risks" promoting its own shows, Williams described the BSSA as the "most efficient operation in this part of the country," praising the BSSA director Brian Sites for success in attracting stand out events.Offsetting the risk, the multiplier includes 150 annual equivalent full time jobs.

Sites added that two corporate officers of the parent SGA which operates the center must sign off on a self-promoted event as well as Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of administration and finance. "We're a lean, mean ten employee event production machine," Sites said.

Although the general fund subsidy states $351,000, Sites explained that the state coal severance tax sharing  and the naming rights revenue (about $150,000 a year) flows to the arena from the general fund as part of that subsidy.

 The naming rights are up for a ten year renewal, according to Sites. However, Williams reiterated that his office has not had discussions on "ten years," which he hinted might bring a higher market rate. "We will be compensated appropriately," the Mayor added in response to the possibility of a shorter term agreement then a bid for naming rights.

Gary Bunn inquired about opening the center for "walkers," in a manner like the now demolished Veterans Memorial Field House. Sites indicated that security would have to be maintained. He agreed to check with corporate to see if "we can make the numbers work."

The Huntington Municipal Parking Board submitted a budget the same as last year. It includes about $200,000 in carry over. Executive Director Mike Wilson explained "we are almost at full capacity," regarding parking space sales. He added that the future could bring "improvements," such consideration of  a new multi story parking garage.

Council Chairman Mark Bates complimented Wilson's leadership for "safer, well lit, and nicer" facilities.

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