Budweiser Gardens, Town Hall coffers hit hard by COVID in 2021

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Budweiser Gardens was hit hard again last year in a COVID-plagued season, and the pain will extend to City Hall results, potentially for years to come, city staff report. .

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Budweiser Gardens was hit hard again last year in a COVID-plagued season, and the pain will extend to City Hall results, potentially for years to come, city staff report. .

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Only two events took place at the city-owned venue in 2020-21, well below the planned 99. Although the Bud expected over 460,000 paying fans for concerts, hockey and basketball games, and other entertainment, only 606 tickets were sold.

It’s also bad news for City Hall, which receives 70% of ticket revenue plus a minimum payment of $50,000 per year. City Hall received just $2,692 on top of its guaranteed payout in 2020-21, a small fraction of the typical six-figure payout.

“It’s, quite honestly, a little better than I expected,” Ward 2 Coun. said Shawn Lewis. “Obviously this is not good news, but we are not in a deficit situation as I expected.”

He chairs the Business Services Committee, which will receive Budweiser Gardens’ latest annual report next week.

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The arena grossed $80,952 in 2020-21, despite budgeting for a loss of $430,000. The previous year it had lost $648,422, which means a cumulative financial loss still plagues the Bud and, by extension, City Hall.

I expect the rebound to be strong and fairly quick

Com. Shawn Lewis

“The city is under no obligation to help fund the financial loss, however, based on the terms of the partnership agreement, any loss incurred will be recovered from future profits. . . earned by Budweiser Gardens until they are cleared,” city staff said in their report.

“Depending on the number of years until Budweiser Gardens returns to financial profit, it will be difficult to determine when the city’s share of revenue will return to pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Lack of activity at Bud also has a ripple effect.

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“It’s not just that there’s no revenue from the Bud’s operations, it also means there’s no people in hotel rooms, so there’s no municipal lodging tax,” Lewis said.

The council charges a hotel tax of 4% which is split between Tourism London and a reserve fund. Lewis also sits on the tourism board.

Lower expenses and revamped events during the pandemic helped Budweiser Gardens weather the second year of COVID-19, according to its annual report.

This included events streamed online and new ventures such as a Halloween trick-or-treat, Bud’s Brew Garden – a landscaped patio in a parking lot – and a one-hour Zamboni class, with the option to drive the vehicle. the most Canadian for a ride on the ice.

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“I’m very proud of the Budweiser Gardens team for demonstrating a collective determination to keep moving forward, creating unique new events, reinventing favorite traditions, but most importantly, finding ways to stay in touch with our fans and the community,” General Manager Brian Ohl wrote in the annual report.

Even though the peak of the COVID-19 crisis appears to be stabilizing, the pandemic continues to hit the bottom line of the entertainment industry very seriously.

Country music star Chris Stapleton postponed his April 28 concert at Budweiser Gardens hours before showtime after COVID-19 hit a member of his band. And Brett Kissel fans were left disappointed last weekend by his last-minute postponement due to “vocal issues.”

But Lewis said he’s not panicking.

“I expect the rebound to be strong and quite quick,” he said.

“When you look at what’s happening now, with the possibility of the Knights returning to full capacity, the in-person hockey games, the concert lineups that we have, Budweiser Gardens is the jewel in the crown of our tourist attraction. There is no doubt about it.

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