An exciting increase in concerts with several sellout performances, the draw of nationally coveted sporting events and continued investment in state-of-the-art security headlined Fiscal 2017-2018 for the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), culminating in a financially profitable 15th year of operation.
MECA continues to be a valuable contributor for the local economy, developing a nationwide reputation for the ability to expertly host large scale and multiday conventions; in fact, repeat business made up more than half of convention center clientele in fiscal 2017-2018. In total, MECA’s overall fiscal year (which ended June 30, 2018) boasted a profit of $5.7 million before depreciation and amortization, a 14% increase over the previous fiscal year. This demonstrates MECA’s ability to achieve consistent financial success, reporting profit every year since opening the CHI Health Center in 2003.
Fiscal 2017-2018 brought an array of diverse performing artists to CHI Health Center Omaha, including multiple nights of consecutive, high-selling shows (in May when Kevin Hart, Shania Twain and U2 had back to back appearances). Athletic events such as Creighton men’s basketball and NCAA Sweet 16 March Madness tournaments also drew invariably chart-topping crowds to the arena. By the end of the fiscal year, MECA generated more than $45 million in revenue and attracted almost a million visitors to the venue.
Building security, facility upgrades and meticulous upkeep are unwavering priorities for MECA – which are all paid from annual operating revenue as well as the Authority’s capital reserve fund. In fiscal 2017-2018 MECA invested in several safety enhancements, such as brand new walk-through metal detectors at all CHI Health Center Omaha public entrances, advanced surveillance technology and updated lighting installation throughout the garage. Other projects included roof and concrete repairs. MECA spent $2.4 million in capital improvements without the assistance of taxpayer dollars.
Baseball fans from across the country continue to fill the stands at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, this year hosting its eighth NCAA Men’s College World Series (CWS). Highlights from 2018 included the longest running nine-inning game in CWS history (North Carolina versus Oregon State in the first round), and Oregon State’s eventual championship victory – securing their third national title in program history. In fiscal 2017-2018 TD Ameritrade Park also hosted the Big Ten Baseball Tournament (which returns annually through 2022) and 21 Creighton Baseball home games. MECA receives a management fee to operate the stadium on behalf of the City of Omaha.
This fiscal year (2018-2019) also brings exciting promise with the forging of a new naming rights partnership for the convention center and arena. CHI Health officially named the building “CHI Health Center Omaha” with the signing of a 20-year agreement worth $23.6 million. Their contractual contributions will be dedicated to future updates and maintenance, helping to ensure the building stays competitive and profitable.
MECA is building on the momentum from Fiscal 2017-2018’s strong concert lineup, already welcoming tours from Luke Bryan, Hall & Oates, Train, Smashing Pumpkins, and Travis Scott this fiscal year, along with a Top Rank boxing event. Acts still to come in Fiscal 2018-2019 include Justin Timberlake, Elton John, KISS, Panic! At The Disco, Eric Church, Pink, Cher, Luke Combs and Ariana Grande with even more exciting announcements approaching. The convention center is also booking up quickly with 141 new and repeat events planned for this year – already ahead of last year’s pace.
The Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that builds and manages public event venues in Omaha, Nebraska. The formal operations of MECA commenced on August 25, 2000 with the signing of a 99-year Lease and Development Agreement with the City of Omaha. The cost to build the CHI Health Center was $291 million, funded through a public-private arrangement. The private sector contributed $75 million and the public sector contributed $216 million. CHI Health Center Omaha opened in 2003.
In consideration of this unprecedented level of private support for a public arena, the 99-year agreement assigned MECA to exclusively operate the Facilities at its discretion. MECA is governed by a board of five appointed, independent directors and oversaw by a dedicated management team. Board members are named by the City of Omaha with appointments rotating between the City Council and the Mayor.
Another public-private arrangement was completed to create a new home for the NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series. In 2009, MECA broke ground on TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, which opened in 2011. The stadium hosts numerous other events and is also the home field for the Creighton men’s baseball team.