Carnival Center To Be Closed For Routine Maintenance
By April M. Havens
The cash-strapped Carnival Center for the Performing Arts will be closed in August and for part of September for "routine maintenance," officials say.
"During August, we will not have any performances," said Suzette Espinosa, public-relations manager. "In September, we’ll be back open, with some performances."
"Summer is considerably slower," Ms. Espinosa said, so August is the most convenient time to close the center for maintenance work.
Albert Milano, who previously served on the Carnival Center’s board of directors, said he knew of some construction and maintenance issues that need to be addressed but did not know specific summer closing plans.
The Carnival Center Web site does not list any performances for August or September and performance schedules released earlier in the year do not include August or September events.
The Carnival Center’s closing comes after officials asked May 14 for $4.1 million in additional funding from the county’s convention development tax fund, which comes in part from the county’s hotel bed tax. If granted at the commission’s June 26 meeting, the additional funding would catapult the county’s Carnival Center contribution to $7.8 million this year. Operating costs are estimated at $8.8 million for next year.
Carnival Center CEO Michael Hardy told the county commission’s recreation and cultural affairs committee May 14 that closing the center for a period between May and September would be the most effective way to cut operating escalating operating costs.
Further, cutting the number of productions would save the center up to $4.4 million but cost it $3.4 in revenue, Mr. Hardy said.
Commission members on the cultural affairs committee voiced concern over the center’s significantly underestimated operation costs, which included a major air-conditioning miscalculation.
"Our mistake was not thinking in cubic-footage," Mr. Hardy said. Instead, the original budget figured air-conditioning costs per square foot. The monthly operating costs of $616,000 turned out to be double the budgeted amount.