Attendance up, economic impact a record for Memorial Coliseum in 2017

The Memorial Coliseum and General Manager Randy Brown. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of The

Last year was a “very good” one for the Memorial Coliseum according to General Manager Randy Brown, highlighted by a small but growing operating surplus, a record level of estimated economic impact and the 27th consecutive annual attendance of at least 1 million visitors.

Total attendance in 2017 was about 1.1 million, an increase of 6.6 percent over the previous year. That was at least in part a reflection of a 3.3 percent increase in “use days,” or the use of one space for one day. All of that produced the largest economic impact in the Coliseum’s history, Brown said: about $116.12 million, up nearly 12 percent from 2016.

Expenses were about $6.04 million, up 3.9 percent, but revenues rose 6.4 percent to about $6.1 million, yielding a surplus of $61,426 — up 39.6 percent.

In addition, 98.4 percent of guests rated the Coliseum excellent or good, which Brown said was “our best since 2001.”

That good news was tempered by a 15 percent decrease in attendance in January compared to 2017, a result Brown attributed to cold weather, snow and the flu.

And although activity from events will slow down over the summer, the period will again be a busy one from a capital improvement standpoint. In a project expected to cost about $1.6 million, the arena’s 11-year-old scoreboard will be replaced along with the electronic “ribbon boards” in the arena and rotunda. The current equipment’s manufacturer is out of business, Brown said, making maintenance more difficult and expensive.