Washington Pavilion CEO says venue to absorb $1 million loss so far from COVID-19

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In the case of a pandemic, the show can’t always go on.

Although the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls started its re-opening process Monday with Leonardo’s Cafe and the box office, the loss of stage lights since mid-March has had an impact.

Darrin Smith, the Pavilion’s chief executive officer and president, said the venue is expected to lose $1 million through June 30 because it closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve averaged losing $300,000 for each full month (of closure),” Smith said.

The Pavilion closed because of coronavirus in mid-March. It lost $100,000 in March, and $300,000 in April and May. Although the re-opening started Monday, Smith said he expects to lose $300,000 in June.

“We will be able to weather the storm, having had our best year in history,” Smith said. “We had a very nice operational surplus and we did qualify for a (COVID-19 relief) loan.”

That surplus and loan will help the Pavilion just about break even for rest of the fiscal year but “I’m far more concerned about the coming 12 months.”

Although touring Broadway shows are still slated for October and November, Smith said he’s not convinced those shows will happen. The touring casts need to rehearse for about three full months and they may not be able to start rehearsing in June or July, he said.

“That’s huge for us,” Smith said of any decision Broadway makes about touring companies.

So far, Broadway has announced that it won’t have shows on Broadway until at least after Labor Day.

While the fall touring Broadway schedule isn’t 100% certain, Smith said there are recording/music artists who are still interested in performing in Sioux Falls in the late summer and fall.

The Pavilion is discussing ways to handle concerts using social distancing, Smith said.

Smith said area residents have been supportive of the venue and its programming. On Monday, there was a line of people waiting to use the box office.

“We are tracking ahead of schedule for next season subscription sales,” Smith said.

Although Smith needs to consider that COVID-19 will impact the venue’s fall season, he also noted that the National Football League is selling tickets to games in large stadiums. The NFL is scheduled to start its season in September. Broadway could have a similar type of robust return in the fall, he said.

Sales at venues such as the Pavilion generate revenue for the city under the entertainment tax or third penny sales tax.

City financial director Shawn Pritchett has said at several council informational meetings that he expects declines in sales tax revenue as well as in the third penny sales tax.

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