Arenacross Tour

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2008

Civic center draws 3,400-plus to racing shows

By Billy Davis

The Batesville Civic Center will wind down the year after hosting back-to-back events that boosted attendance at the facility by more than 3,000 people.

The BCC filled 1,600 seats for go-cart racing on November 28 and November 29, and more recently lured 1,887 fans of arenacross motorcycle racing on December 6. The civic center has 3,022 permanent seats surrounding a 45,000-square-foot arena floor.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Total attendance for both events numbered 3,487 spectators.

The Arenacross Tour visited Batesville in February for one night, bringing 2,700 fans and marking the civic center’s “biggest single night,” BCC director Roy Hyde said at the time.

The go-cart racing, known as the Indoor Kart Championship, made its first visit to the BCC, choosing Batesville as a host after holding past events in Tunica.

The attendance numbers help bolster the civic center’s end-of-the-year numbers and also give the facility an early bump in the first quarter of the fiscal year. The civic center, owned by the City of Batesville, follows the same fiscal year as the city, which begins October 1. 

Figures provided by Hyde show the BCC ended the 2007-2008 fiscal year with 77 events and 98 days of activity at the facility. Those numbers include all events throughout the year, ranging from wedding receptions in conference rooms to a monster truck show on the arena floor.

Additional figures provided by Hyde show the number of BCC events are up 26 percent over 2006-2007, and rental revenue is up 162 percent over 2006-2007.

Thanks to the increase in events, Hyde calculates that “subsidies” – city funds put into the facility for operations – shrunk eight percent over the most recent fiscal year. The city spent $620,702 on the BCC in 2006-2007 and $571,337.38 in 2007-2008, figures show.

The Batesville Civic Center has endured a shaky history. It began as a controversial county project that collapsed, both figuratively and literally, when its steel frame tumbled to the ground. The City of Batesville eventually purchased the property from the county.

To pay for its investment, the City of Batesville is making an annual payment of $561,822 to First Security Bank through 2022 according to City Clerk Laura Herron.

According to Hyde, any critics of the city’s investment should consider that both event goers and participants spend money on hotel rooms, fuel, dining and shopping. In addition to the 3,400-plus fans who watched go-carts and motorcycles, the pair of events signed up 800 and 270 participants respectively.

“It’s basic economic impact,” Hyde said. “These buildings are designed to break even with the purpose being to spread revenue around town.”

The City of Batesville most recently showed a one-percent dip in year-to-date sales tax revenue, but at the same time the city’s three-percent tourism tax on hotels and restaurants showed a healthy bump.

In November, the most recent reporting period, the tourism tax showed a 5.12-percent increase over the previous year.

In a one-month reporting period, the city’s Tourism and Economic Development Tax was up 2.5 percent and recorded revenue of $73,428.

A portion of Batesville’s tourism tax is allocated for the Batesville Civic Center.

The Batesville Civic Center employs four full-time and 21 part-time employees.