SBD/May 17, 2011/Facilities

Global Entertainment's Arenas Leave Cities Searching For Funds, Management

Rio Rancho is suing Global for $300,000 over the 6,500-seat Santa Ana Center
Global Entertainment persuaded 10 cities that it could “build them an arena, sell everything from tickets to hot dogs, and book enough events to turn a profit,” but in “most cases, Global failed to meet its financial projections and was replaced, leaving the cities to pay for expensive arenas that they often have had no experience running,” according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Former Global employees said that the 6,500-seat Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., was “too small to attract big-name bands yet too big for up-and-coming acts.” Former Star Center Ticket Manager Doug Priestap said, “Global’s thrust is the smaller markets and 6,000-seat buildings, which are a funny size for the touring industry. Global got in way over its head. But these small towns, they get stars in their eyes and want to have an arena.” Global Entertainment also owns the Central Hockey League and “put its teams in many of the arenas.” But hockey has been “a hard sell in places like Rio Rancho, where the Scorpions of the CHL failed in 2009.” Now, Rio Rancho is “suing Global Entertainment to recoup more than $300,000 that it claims the company owes dozens of local businesses that provided services at the arena.” Meanwhile, in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Global Entertainment “built and still runs Tim’s Toyota Center.” But “several investors who bought some of the $35 million in bonds issued to pay for the arena have sued the company and its top executives, the city and its underwriter, Wells Fargo, alleging that they ignored pessimistic feasibility studies and knowingly issued overly optimistic growth forecasts so they could win higher bond ratings” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17).
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