CONCLUDES 16TH YEAR OF OPERATION WITH $4.6 M PROFIT
Contact: Kristyna Engdahl, Director of Communications
For Immediate Release
OMAHA, Neb. (January 14, 2020) – A historic Major League Baseball game for the state of Nebraska, the launch of a widely transformative project in the heart of downtown Omaha and another year of successful arena and convention center events culminated in a successful Fiscal 2018-2019 for the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA). In total, MECA’s fiscal year (which ended on June 30, 2019) generated a $4.6 million profit before depreciation and amortization. The Authority has proudly reported a profit every year since opening the CHI Health Center in 2003.
CHI Health Center Omaha will turn 17 years old this September, elevating the importance of continuous building upgrades and careful upkeep. In fiscal 2018-2019 the MECA Operations team oversaw the purchase and installation of new speakers for the arena and convention center; the previous sound systems were original to the building and in need of replacement. Other investments include a new shot clock to enhance both the fan and student athlete experience, concrete repairs to the Aksarben Terrace and roof replacement over the arena. Last fiscal year MECA spent $2.4 million in improvements throughout its venues, paid from annual operating revenue and capital reserve funds.
An ongoing dedication to maintenance ensures that MECA’s facilities remain world-class economic drivers for the City. For example, with help from the local hotel community and Visit Omaha, the convention center secured a dozen new largescale exhibitions and/or meetings in fiscal 2018-2019, drawing thousands of visitors to Omaha. Over half of total convention center business came from returning clientele last year, demonstrating reliable and consistent performances by MECA event staff.
Fiscal 2018-2019 brought several exciting shows to the CHI Health Center arena, including back-to-back sellout performances for Eric Church’s “Double Down Tour” opener, and Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” which sold out in just minutes. Sports events also continue to receive strong community support – with Creighton men’s basketball once again logging NCAA chart-topping crowds last fiscal year, and in defense of his welterweight boxing title Terence “Bud” Crawford broke his home state attendance record in October of 2018. In total, the CHI Health Center welcomed just under a million visitors last fiscal year for a total of $58.4 million in operations revenue, a 28% increase over last year.
TD Ameritrade Park Omaha made history this summer, bringing the state’s first regular season Major League Baseball (MLB) game to Omaha. Attendance exceeded expectations, with about 25-thousand fans packing into the ballpark to watch the Kansas City Royals defeat the Detroit Tigers. The MLB game preceded the NCAA Men’s College World Series (CWS), which marked its 9th year at the stadium. TD Ameritrade Park Omaha also serves as home field for Creighton Baseball, which hosted 16 games in 2019 – and the Big Ten Tournament (which returns through 2022) grabbed headlines when Ohio State narrowly beat Nebraska in the title game. Total profits at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha amounted to $7.0 million in fiscal 2018-2019; MECA receives a management fee to operate the stadium on behalf of the City of Omaha.
But likely MECA’s most sizeable undertaking in fiscal 2018-2019 was the addition of a new, 90-acre venture in downtown Omaha. The Riverfront Revitalization Project (now simply known as The RiverFront) broke ground in February 2019 with the goal of creating an exciting and accessible community space. MECA created the MECA Tri-Park Complex, LLC to oversee the almost $300-million construction budget – which is comprised of both public and private dollars. The Authority will oversee The RiverFront’s development, activation and maintenance upon reopening, and will facilitate year-round events to enhance the parks’ vivacity.
The current fiscal year (2019-2020) is already off to a strong start, welcoming tours from Chris Stapleton, the Backstreet Boys, Phil Collins and the Jonas Brothers – just to name a few. Major events still to come include the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this spring, followed by the fourth consecutive return of the USA Olympic Team Trials for Swimming. The convention center is also quickly filling up, with 18 largescale (citywide) events already contracted in Fiscal 2019-2020 for a total of 238 event days and counting. TD Ameritrade Park Omaha will celebrate a milestone anniversary this year, with the ballpark hosting its 10th CWS since opening in 2011.
Also, this fiscal year visitors will see the addition of a significant new safety investment – with the upcoming installation of permanent, state-of-the-art security barriers around the MECA campus. Temporary barriers have already been in use for certain events, but MECA decided to initiate an effort that would assure the best and latest security practices at both facilities year-round. Eventually, barriers will encircle both the convention center/arena and ballpark perimeters. Construction will begin early this year and last through 2020 with completion in phases. MECA will continue to prioritize safety, security and overall maintenance, at all its facilities, for the years to come.
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.