Flood pulls plug on convention center money

Published 11:33 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

The 2011 flood caused a drop in Vicksburg Convention Center revenues and expenses for the third quarter of fiscal 2011, Convention Center Advisory Board members learned Wednesday.

The floods, however, didn’t stop all activity at the convention center and auditorium, which hosted 52 events during the third quarter, operations and events coordinator Lisa Sanders said.

Executive director Larry Gawronski added that nine months into the fiscal year, convention center attendance was up 26 percent over the same period in 2010, and auditorium attendance totaled 23,452 over nine months.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Gawronski said convention center income is 13 percent over budget projections for the first nine months of the fiscal year and auditorium revenue is 11 percent over budget for the same period.

The center is funded by income from equipment rental and facilities, a 1 percent citywide lodging tax and money from the City of Vicksburg’s general fund. The center’s third quarter includes April, May and June.

The largest factor affecting the center’s revenue, business manager Donna Gray said, was space rental, which was 10 percent below projections because events were rescheduled because of the flood. Many of the events, she said, were rescheduled for the last quarter of the year — July, August and September.

The rescheduling also caused a 53 percent drop in concession sales, and catering revenue was 18 percent below projections. Expenses were 5 percent under budget for the period, Gray said.

Revenue for the auditorium, she said, was 31 percent over budget for the third quarter, with expenses 13 percent less than projections.

Gawronski said the convention center’s expenses were 4 percent under budget, and the center’s operating deficit for the third quarter was $412,442, or 14 percent under the projected $672,055. He said the lodging tax is 1 percent under budget, $312,056 compared to a projected $420,000.

He said the center’s income would receive a boost the last three months of the fiscal year, when events that rescheduled in April and May arrive.

Vicksburg, Warren County and much of the Lower Mississippi River Valley experienced historic flooding in the spring with the crest at Vicksburg coming on May 19 at 14.1 feet above flood stage of 43 feet.