By Matt Day, Niagara Falls Review
NIAGARA FALLS - More than 500,000 people have walked through the doors of the Scotiabank Convention Centre since it first opened its doors two years ago.
And after 259 events, the cost to run the 288,000-square-foot facility remains zero for Niagara Falls residents.
The $100 million centre — initially funded by the federal and provincial governments to the tune of $35 million each — uses funds from the Fallsview Business Improvement Area and the Victoria Centre BIA to help offset costs of operation.
The Fallsview BIA committed to paying $1 million for the first 15 years of operation while the Victoria Centre BIA is contributing $100,000 on a yearly basis. That money is on top of money from user fees.
Thursday marked the two-year anniversary since the grand opening. Since then, an estimated $9.3 million has been pumped into the local economy, said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati.
He referenced success stories such as the Niagara Falls Comic Con and the Niagara Food and Wine Expo, which will be returning for its third year at the end of April.
The centre’s chairman, Wayne Thomson, said where most other convention centres are operating at a deficit, the Niagara Falls facility is in a unique position thanks to the long-term commitment from its partners.
“We've been told that 2013, across Canada, is going to be a very difficult year for convention centres, but we are doing very well and keeping up,” said Thomson. “The first three years of operating are the most difficult, but we have no debt and that buffer from the stakeholders. Nobody else has that.”
Kerry Painter, the centre's president and general manager, said after the first year the convention centre reported a small profit. That money is pooled into operational costs for the next fiscal year.
She said there is a 100% return rate with clients not considered one-time users and a 93% satisfaction rating.
“That’s a big deal. We’re a whole word-of-mouth industry,” she said.
SOME EVENTS CENTRE HOSTED
- Canadian Tire Dealers' Association
- Greater Niagara Home and Garden Show
- Golden NYE with Deadmau5
- Canadian Pool & Spa Expo
- Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention
- Niagara Sportsmen Show