Pact with MECA means city to cover all Civic Auditorium losses -
Published Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:33 pm
Pact with MECA means city to cover all Civic Auditorium losses

The City of Omaha would be on the hook for any of the Civic Auditorium's operating losses, under a proposed agreement between the city and Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority.

The agreement would end on June 30, 2014, around the time city officials expect to close the facility as they try to redevelop the site. The existing Civic operating agreement was to end in June 2017.

City Council members will vote on the proposed operations agreement later this month.

The Civic had a net financial loss of approximately $23,000 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, a MECA spokeswoman said. The facility lost some $126,700 the year prior, and just under $30,000 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Under the prior agreement with MECA, the city had to cover only a portion of the losses at the facility, City Attorney Paul Kratz said.

“If there's any loss (this year), the city will pick it up,” Kratz said.

The eventual closing of the aging 9,300-seat arena, Music Hall and convention hall follows years of study and debates over the building's future.

Over the past decade, the Civic tried to keep up with the rise of the CenturyLink Center Omaha and Council Bluffs' Mid-America Center. But the auditorium's physical condition has suffered, its finances have fallen into the red, and it lost key tenants to the new Ralston Arena.

City officials want to find a developer interested in razing the building and redeveloping the entire property.

Council members also voted to appoint a new member to the MECA board Tuesday.

Jamie Gutierrez-Mora will serve a five-year term beginning in May. Board member Jennifer Rasmussen's term has expired, a MECA spokeswoman said.

“This young professional will bring, I think, a lot of pizzazz, a lot of spark and spunk to the MECA board,” Councilman Garry Gernandt said Tuesday. “I'm not saying that it doesn't have it now. ... It's just amazing to watch this young lady work.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1068,

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