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City Used General Fund Money to Subsidize MPEC Last Year

The most recent event at the coliseum, Tuesday night's Globetrotters game, only sold 1725 tickets of eight-thousand available, which is an indication the economy may be keeping ticket sales for events low.
    Ever since the MPEC and Kay Yeager coliseum opened, some big names in entertainment have made their way to Wichita Falls.
    It's assumed that big names would bring big ticket sales, but lately big names do not always translate into big sales, as was the case with the Trans Siberian Orchestra show in October.
    Bob Sullivan, MPEC executive director, says, "Traditionally that show is very, very strong throughout the country.  In the last 36 months, their average attendance was 10-thousand, something people per show.  Unfortunately for us, the attendance here was 24-hundred."
    Without those ticket sales. it's impossible to meet revenue goals.
    "We were below budget expectations in revenue, but we were also below budget expectations in our operating expenses," Sullivan says.
    Jim Dockery, chief financial officer for the city, says, "Last year was not the greatest year because of the economy and so we've had to make up for some of that loss more so than what we've had in the past."
    It was projected the MPEC would need about $1.3 million dollars to make up its losses in 2011.
    But because ticket sales were low, the total operating subsidy needed was almost $200-thousand more than budgeted.
    The city was able to subsidize the majority of that deficit with the hotel motel tax, but ended up having to pull out an additional $67-thousand from the general fund.
    "It doesn't operate on a balanced budget.  It's never been imagined that the facilities over there would break even," Dockery says.
    "Really, we're a reflection of what's going on in the entire industry.  There are fewer acts that are on the road, and they've become very selective as to where they play," Sullivan says.
    Officials say because of the dip in the national and local economy, people are spending less money going to events.
    And if residents want to see big names come to Wichita Falls, city officials say they'll simply have to buy the tickets when they come.
    Those we spoke with say when people and businesses look to move here, they look at those activities and see them as incentives to moving to the area.
    MPEC officials say there are some big shows coming here this year, including the WWE wrestling event Sunday and comedian Jeff Dunham in March.
    They say they also have a couple of big concerts they're working on, but they're not releasing that information just yet.
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