ALBANY, GA (WALB) - We applaud Albany leaders who are exploring hiring a venue management company to run the Albany Civic Center.
The city is searching for a venue manager as event attendance drops and operation costs increase.
Many people who have lived in Albany can remember when the civic center sold out, hosting musical superstars like Alabama, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John.
But recently one of the largest arenas in South Georgia has sat empty, as well as the other city-owned venues, the Municipal Auditorium and the Amphitheater.
Over the last two fiscal years, attendance at the Albany Civic Center has decreased by more than 25 percent.
In fiscal year 2017, civic center attendance fell to around 72,000 customers. That's a 22,000 person decrease in attendance.
The overall operations have been in the red, at a loss of one and a half million dollars in fiscal year 2016. And even more, $2.3 million in fiscal year 2017.
Small business owners in the downtown area tell us they feel the positive impact when people attend events at the Civic Center, but have missed it lately.
In recent months the city's recreation department manager has overseen the Civic Center.
But we feel what is needed is management with experience, and the connections to agents in the music and entertainment fields, to bring in shows that will put paying customers in the seats at the Albany Civic Center.
We know it's possible. Even the Sasser Flea market booked popular artists over the last few years. Tifton has recently booked Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, and Vince Gill.
The bidding process for a company to manage and market the civic center closed before Thanksgiving.
Let's hope an operator will be found that can bring entertainment back to the Albany Civic Center in the near future, helping defray some of the costs of upkeep for a too often empty facility.
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