Keeping current customers, bringing new ones in and trying to bring back customers who had a bad experience. Just like private businesses trying to turn a profit or cut losses, that’s the goal of MPEC General Manager Michael Tipton and his staff.
When Michael Tipton arrived last September to take over Spectra’s management of the facilities, he knew he had work to do and the MPEC had it’s share of problems. But there may be light at the end of the ‘red ink tunnel,’ after tallying the operational loss for the three months ending December of last year of more than $271,000.
“Even with the loss of hockey, we’re ahead of where we were last year,” Tipton said. He believes that’s due in part to previous management trying to do too much with too few people. Looking forward, Tipton said attractions such as the new soccer team will help, but it’s still going to be challenging competing with bigger cities and venues to the east and north that draw the big crowds and big stars.
“Very rarely is it someone saying: ‘Hey I just want to come play Wichita Falls,'” Tipton said.
Still, there are favorites that do come frequently such as WWE Live and the upcoming monster truck show. But Tipton said even with big name entertainers, slow early ticket sales can make it hard to make up the costs in the last few weeks.
“We’ve been on sale for REO Speedwagon, for example, which doesn’t happen until May 1, that went on sale before Christmas. We’ve only got a thousand tickets sold and our break even on the show is like 2200 tickets,” Tipton said. “That’s what people here tell me a lot is ‘We wait until the last minute because so many shows get canceled.'”
Tipton said he and his staff are working on that nagging issue with a campaign via social media, in- person surveys and other methods, to get the public’s event feedback on what acts they would like to see and could afford.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana is confident in Tipton’s leadership. Regardless of how well MPEC is managed however, it can’t succeed without customers.
“When you have a professional group that brings a quality event, a Chad Prather or a monster truck show, whatever it is , get out as Wichitans and support those events,” Santellana said.
As to when those surveys and methods of feedback will open up, Tipton said work is underway.
For a complete list of upcoming events at the MPEC, click here.