Last month, we shook our heads a little when the city council had to throw Pershing Center a $150,000 lifeline on top of the roughly half a million dollar annual subsidy it already provides. So it should have been no surprise when we read this weekend about how much difficulty the venue is having turning any profits. Apparently, so far in 2009 there hasn’t been one touring “major” concert interested in stopping at Pershing. Plus, even when events do come to town, no one wants to spend any money on food or beer because the concourses are so small that waiting in line is even more unpleasant than usual.
So, we all understand the city will dispose of Pershing if we’re getting a new arena, but that’s far from a done deal. What if we reject the arena next Spring? Presumably, in that scenario, State Basketball would also soon be on the way out of Lincoln, rendering the venue even less useful.
If the new arena is rejected, is there any reason to keep this place open, spend at least a half million (plus future bailouts as maintenance costs increase) of increasingly valuable and rare city revenue to subsidize it, all so we can bring in roller skating championships every other year? I’m not sure the benefit of keeping Pershing running outweighs the cost, and that says nothing about the fact that perhaps a rejected arena initiative would signal sentiment that the majority of Lincolites are fine with Omaha satisfying all our needs for concerts and other large-scale entertainment events.
In any case, we’ll take this discussion up tomorrow with Wendy Birdsall from the Chamber at 7:20 and we’ll also take your thoughts as well.