Bradenton Municipal Auditorium bathed in red ink

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 18, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The future of the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium is uncertain as officials consider how to stem the red ink from its operation.

At a city council workshop Wednesday, officials discussed what to do about the auditorium's $100,000 annual deficit.

"How much should we invest in the auditorium for the 70 or so events that go on there?" City Clerk Carl Callahan said. "I think we need to charge what it costs to operate, at least for a year."

The auditorium brings in about $80,000 a year in revenue, according to Callahan. However, it costs about $180,000 a year to operate.

The deficit is due to the fact the city rents the facility for less than operational costs. Raising the rent is being considered.

The auditorium was once the biggest rental hall facility in the community but that has changed.

"I think a problem is there are so many alternatives now," Mayor Wayne Poston said.

With downtown in transition, Councilman Harold Byrd said he thinks the auditorium is still an asset.

"I think with the addition of a hotel downtown, you may see an upswing of things," Byrd said.

Other ideas were thrown around on how to bring in more revenue from the auditorium.

"Bring someone in here who works on some commission basis," Councilman Gene Gallo suggested.

Closing the facility, which each year plays host to high school proms, graduations, weddings and various community events, is apparetnly not an option. Councilman Gene Brown says many residents, himself included, have fond memories of the venue.

Brown and Council Patrick Roff agreed that keeping the venue open would be a service to their constituents.

"Well that's the way we need to look at it. We aren't really losing money, it's for the community," Brown said.

Bradenton Municipal Auditorium was built in 1961 and city hall was built around it. It can hold up to 1,100 people depending on the event.

"When this place was built it was the premier place," Gallo said. "This is not premier anymore."

Jessica De Leon, Herald Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.

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