Alice Cooper concert lost money despite good attendance

The numbers are in for Alice Cooper’s August concert at Affinity Place, and it lost money for the City of Estevan.

Financial statements for the concert were released at Monday night’s meeting of Estevan city council. City treasurer Trudy Firth said the concert sustained a net loss of $17,721.25.

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She believes the concert needed to sell about 200 more tickets to break even. A total of 1,876 tickets were sold, and 2,066 was the break-even point.

Total revenues were $170,860.51, with $148,791.69 coming through ticket sales and $22,068.82 from concession and merchandise sales.

Expenses were at $188,581.76. The cost for the musician was $141,140.08, which accounted for the largest expense. Production was $23,372.45, advertising was $11,952.54, security was $7,229.20, and administration was $4,887.49.

In an email to the Mercury, Firth said the band fee, converted to Canadian dollars, was $111,557.13. There was also $1,950 for band spotlights as per artist specifications, $1,157.45 for band and crew food and drink, and $26,475.50 for band promoter fees.

“There really was a positive response to the show, and they said they enjoyed the venue and there was great sound,” Firth said in her report.

She noted there was a slight increase in server costs as the city tried to ensure they had enough drink service with a four-bar setup.

“The fact that the show was on a Sunday night reduced our potential sales – both tickets and alcohol,” Firth said. “Most acts will fill the prime Friday and Saturday night spots with venues in larger centers. After that, they will then consider the smaller venues that are close enough to the already booked larger centers.”

Councillor Greg Hoffort asked for a total financial report for concerts since Affinity Place opened in 2011. He believes they are close to breaking even on the shows over that time.

City manager Jeff Ward pointed out such a report was released last year, after the Blue Rodeo concert, which also lost money.

Councillor Trevor Knibbs asked about the possibility of having a 50-50 draw during concerts, with money going to local charitable organizations. Ward countered each tour has guidelines for initiatives such as that, but they could look into the possibility.

While the concert wasn’t a success financially, Councillor Travis Frank said there were a lot of restaurants that were full and hotel rooms that were booked the night of the concert, so there were benefits for the community.

At a council meeting the night after the concert, council members and city administration said they hoped the Cooper concert would break even or even make a small amount of money.

Mayor Roy Ludwig said he was surprised with the figures included in the statements, but he still supports bringing concerts to Estevan.

“This is something that this council has agreed to do, and previous councils, is bring entertainment to our city and it’s great for the economic activity that it brings to our businesses within our community,” said Ludwig.

The mayor suggested the city should create a line item for concerts in its budget and set some money aside for any potential losses that occur throughout the year, rather than having it come from other line items.

The report was filed just a few days before Friday night’s concert with John Mellencamp at Affinity Place. That concert had a few hundred tickets still available as of Monday evening, with most of the available tickets on the back of the floor towards the sound area.

Council members are confident that the show will make money, and offset the losses from the Cooper concert.

“We have great numbers. We’re just about sold out at this stage, and with it being on a Friday, we always get more of a response on a Friday or Saturday than during the week,” said Ludwig.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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