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CORAL SPRINGS CITY CENTRE: OUR WHITE ELEPHANT

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“There is no business like show business!”

When the  Coral Springs City Centre  was first built, everyone described it as a landmark for Coral Springs,  as it was one of those things that people thought would put us on the map. A few years later, a major renovation had to take place because, this mecca for entertainment had bad acoustics, poor seating and a basketball court where games were played during performances.  It also was running at a deficit.  So the city commissioners spent our money and fixed the sound, added more seats, built a basketball court (in progress) and gave us what we have today:  $600,000 a year White Elephant!

In  1995, the city contracted  with PFM, Professional Facilities Management Inc. to try to turn this venue around.  The City Budget of 1999 presented at the budget workshop on June 20, indicates that  they received approximately $595,000 under the terms of the contract and an additional $200,000 for other expenses, including running of the mueseum. .   According to Kevin Barret, General Manager for the City Centre., the revenues for 1999 were $1,100,000. 

Kevin also mentioned that the center is booked 265 days out of the year. Most venues that are considered successful only book out 200 days of the year as most promoters book out Wednesday through Sunday only and leave Monday and Tuesday out.  With the Center booked to capacity, chances are the revenues can only increase by increasing ticket prices,  increasing rental rates, or increasing ticket sales.   Kevin indicated that we can expect a 15% increase in revenue for 2000.  However, expenses can also increase, as this is not a once sided equation. That’s why he was uncertain when the center would break even.

I suppose many of the citizens of Coral Springs will say that a center for the performing arts is needed with a city as big as ours, and culturally speaking, it is important as a growing community.   However, with current issues at hand such the  lack of funds for a full time fire department, and the soon limited resources of a fully built out city, we can ill afford a White Elephant in our community.

We are not New York City, nor are we even Ft. Lauderdale.  With our size population and the stabilization of growth expected in the next few years, we can’t afford something that is going to cost us this kind of money. 

If we continue to contract out with the PFM, we will always be at the short end of the stick, having to spend tax payer dollars for the entertainment business. However, the city can ill afford to make the same mistake they made prior to 1995, when they ran the operations, and ultimately, the center into the ground.

So the obvious choice would be to sell the building.  This way the city can recuperate the tax payer’s money they spent, payoff the bond issued for construction and millions of dollars in future subsidies.  Bottom line: We would still have the Coral Springs City Centre for us to enjoy and use, and not have the headaches or the expenses,  associated with it. 

Once again the choice is up to the City Commissioners. Let’s turn this White Elephant into a Cash Cow!

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