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JQH Arena Task Force outlines initiatives

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A task force formed in November 2010 to respond to issues raised by the state auditor regarding Missouri State University’s JQH Arena presented  a report yesterday to the MSU Board of Governors.

The task force was charged with finding ways to make the arena profitable after the auditor’s report found that the facility lost money in its first two years.

The report, presented to the board by task force Chairman Brent Dunn, had five key findings and 16 initiatives to consider for the future, according to an MSU news release.

The task force members represent faculty, staff, students and the community.

“The task force did its research and had very good discussions during the seven meetings in the six months,” said Dunn, vice president for university advancement, in the release. “Early-on, the task force began to focus its time and attention looking forward to ensure the long-term financial security of this tremendous facility. That emphasis is reflected in the report."

Key findings from the report:
  • JQH is a valuable university asset, providing a venue not only for intercollegiate athletics, but also for convocations, commencement ceremonies and entertainment, cultural and special events.
  • Based on the arena’s performance in the last three years and the realities of current economic conditions, the school must recalibrate its plan and implement initiatives to ensure the long-term vitality of JQH Arena.
  • The decision to proceed with constructing the $67 million arena – supported by a $30 million gift from John Q. Hammons - was a good one, and if the opportunity presented itself today, the task force would make the same decision as was made in 2006.
  • The year the arena opened was the largest fundraiser year for the Bears Fund, with nearly $3 million contributed. The prior year, $2 million was raised for athletics. The opening of the arena added $2 million in debt service, and each year since, Bears Fund gifts and season ticket sales have declined. Those declines are the main reason for the $2 million shortfall.
  • The budgets for intercollegiate athletics and JQH Arena are intertwined, making it impossible to deal with them separately. The same is true for budgets of other athletics facilities, particularly when considering a limited number of staff members who service all athletics facilities.
Among the 16 initiatives outlined in the report to help cut costs and boost revenues, the task force recommended the school increase its efforts to sell annual seat assessments and season-ticket sales. A director of ticket sales will be hired to increase sales.

Other possibie initiatives:
  • Exploring the possibility of having the university pay for utilities annually, since the arena is an asset to the whole school. This would be similar to what the school does for other university buildings, and the change would bring roughly $100,000 in savings for the arena’s budget.
  • Exploring the feasibility and a potential timeline to initiate a student fee for athletics
  • Maximizing arena sponsorship opportunities
  • Considering a parking fee for nonathletic events at the arena and re-evaluating parking fees at athletics events
  • Reviewing suite lease pricing and potential subleasing
  • Explore the advisability and interest in selling alcohol at men’s and women’s basketball games
  • Looking at the possibility of increasing the facility fee surcharge on each ticket sold for an event at the arena
  • Charging a rental fee to university departments – except athletics – for use of JQH Arena; The task force suggested a $2,000 daily fee, and the report, the athletics department already pays to use the arena for men’s and women’s basketball.
The full report is available online at www.missouristate.edu/jqharenataskforce[[In-content Ad]]

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