Lethbridge City Councillors passed a resolution earlier this week to look at possible new governance models for the ENMAX Centre.
It was a recommendation in a recent city-wide operational review. Part of this includes possibly selling the city-owned arena and charging for parking at events.
ENMAX Centre General Manager, Kim Gallucci says looking at other options like these is not a bad thing. “I think it’s a good exercise to do to make sure you cover all the bases and look at every option that’s available. It gives us the opportunity to try and be more efficient and still deliver a service to the community.”
The KPMG report suggests looking at ways to get the ENMAX Centre off taxpayer support.
There are different governance models, other than selling as well. One could be the City oowning the facility, but contracting a third party to run and operate the arena, similar to what is being done at the Canalta Centre in Medicine Hat.
City Manager Bram Strain says the ENMAX Centre is essentially an entity that needs to have cost-recovery, noting it has to be full. “So whether that’s the Hurricanes, concerts, or whatever that might be, we need the building full.”
Strain notes right now the ENMAX is at about 70-85% cost-recovery, meaning taxpayers are propping the arena up to the tune of between 15-30% each year. He says the question is now, is this what the community wants or is there another model out there?
When it comes to parking, Lethbridge is on a bit of an island so-to-speak. Most arenas in cities this size charge for some sort of parking at events. GM Kim Gallucci says this idea is not all that bad.
“We are probably one of only a few arenas that doesn’t have pay for parking,” says Gallucci. “It’s just one of those things that can generate additional revenue as identified in the KPMG report. Therefore, it’s a viable opportunity to raise dollars that reduce the amount of tax support that we have.”
Gallucci says putting a parking charge included on each event ticket for instance wouldn’t work as an option because it wouldn’t be fair. He notes one vehicle could have four people coming to an event, so charging for parking on each ticket when it’s only one vehicle doesn’t make sense.
The City Manager says the first thing to do is put out an expression of interest to see if anyone in the private sector would be interested in purchasing the ENMAX Centre.