Kristi Yamaguchi loves Kent
The list of things Kent has to be proud of just got a little longer. In addition to, well, gee, um,


Skate America Chooses Kent (of All Places) and the Financially Struggling ShoWare Center

Kristi Yamaguchi loves Kent
The list of things Kent has to be proud of just got a little longer. In addition to, well, gee, um, all that other stuff Kent has to hang its trucker hat on (none of which I can seem to remember at the moment), it was announced today that Kent's ShoWare Center has been chosen to host this year's Hilton HHonors Skate America event - which will bring a bevy of aging and formerly great ice skaters to town for three-days of ultra-hot ice skating action in October. Previous Skate America events have featured the likes of Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton.

Skate America events have previously been held in Everett and Spokane, with both locations proving more receptive than most. According to a press release issued today, the two Washington-held Skate America events "rank first and second, respectively, in terms of Skate America's overall attendance."

Because Washington loves its figure skating.

Said Skate America Executive Director David Raith in the press release:

Washington is home to some of the best and most supportive figure skating fans in the country and we look forward to showcasing this event to the Seattle area.

Seattle area, of course, is code for Kent.

Governor Gregoire was also included in the press release, saying:

The anticipated economic impact and international television exposure the event will bring to Kent and the greater Seattle area is exciting.

It sure is exciting ... especially, no doubt, to those who are charged with trying to get the ShoWare Center out of the consistent red (specifically, SMG - which runs the event center). Reports - like this one from the Kent Reporter - indicate the arena has lost substantial money for three consecutive years. In 2011 the ShoWare Center lost $457,480, while it lost $398,013 in 2010 and $451,723 in 2009.

Considering the mounting losses, it's no wonder the players involved are starting to get a wee-bit nervous. While the ShoWare Center has historically offered free parking, that may soon be a thing of the past, in just one of many efforts designed to bring in more money.

But, as the Reporter notes, the real problem in Kent is a lack of tickets being sold:

The main challenge for the $84.5 million arena remained selling enough tickets. SMG budgeted 272,530 paid tickets for last year. The arena sold 249,933 tickets.

The people that run Kent would probably do back-flips if Skate America can help put the ShoWare Center on better financial footing, especially considering the financial constraints the arena puts on the city.

From the Reporter:

City officials need the ShoWare Center to at least break even financially. The city continues to set aside money in its annual capital budget fund to cover the losses. That money could be used to help pay for improvements to city streets, facilities and other capital projects.

And lord knows there's plenty in Kent that needs improving

Perhaps figure skating can be the boon the ShoWare Center needs in 2012.

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