Just a week after asking County Council for nearly $3.6 million to recoup losses from canceled events, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum asked the Allen County Board of Commissioners for an additional $151,000 to replace lights in its parking lot.
Coliseum Executive Vice President and General Manager Randy Brown told the commissioners June 26 that the event center has had to cancel, postpone or reschedule approximately 200 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions put in place by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Although the funding from County Council would help offset losses estimated to be between $2.9 million and $3.5 million, Brown said, restrictions on that money prevent the Coliseum from using it for operating costs.
The funds approved by the commissioners will help replace eight light fixtures in the Coliseum’s parking lot. Earlier this year, the commissioners approved funding for lighting inside the building. Brown said the replacement program translates to a reduction in utility costs over time as the facility moves toward all LED fixtures.
The Coliseum, which has a major economic impact on the community, continues to suffer financially from event cancelations.
“With what’s happening with the increase in the number of COVID cases, our industry was the first to shut down. We’re going to be, very likely, the last to reopen, and we just don’t know what the fall is going to bring.” Brown said. “And the other question is what is 2021 going to be? We’ve been doing surveying, and we’re finding that somewhere between 30% and 40% of our guests feel uncomfortable coming out to events until there is a vaccine.”
Brown said those numbers were reflected in attendance at the Coliseum’s Lucky Duck Children’s Consignment sale in June.
He noted that roughly 400 Coliseum employees are currently furloughed.
“That’s painful to say that, so we’re trying to minimize our losses,” he said. “We’ve been remarkably close with our estimates of attendance and our revenues/expenses. We missed attendance for the month of June by just a handful of people.”
In other news
• The commissioners approved rezoning for three planned single-family housing developments. A 99-lot subdivision and an 11-lot subdivision are planned at the corner of Wheelock and Eby roads, with access off both those roads. A 33-lot subdivision is planned for the north side of Yellow River Road between the intersections at Arcola Road and O’Day Road.
• The commissioners approved a $20,000 contract to begin repair work on the roof of the county jail. Vance Hernandez, director of county buildings and grounds, said the project will repair five sections of the roof that haven’t been replaced since 1981 and are leaking water.
• The commissioners approved a $50,000 feasibility study to investigate flooding in Arcola. Bill Hartman, executive director of the Allen County Highway Department, said the Arcola community has experienced continued flooding due to the collapse of a brick storm sewer. Two homes have been particularly impacted by the flooding. Hartman said the highway department may consider moving those homes out of the floodway.