UD Arena, Nutter Center look for a comeback in events in 2022

Event organizers are pushing forward in generating in-person arena experiences this year, but with omicron looming, a full return to pre-pandemic events may be premature, some hosts say.

Both Wright State’s Nutter Center and University of Dayton Arena have seen massive losses in revenue since the start of the pandemic. Wright State’s Nutter Center hosted around 30 major concerts and events on top of university athletics in 2019, which generated over $3 million in revenue. In 2020, the Nutter Center only made $100,000.

As events have begun to pick up in 2021, so has revenue, Wright State’s Seth Bauguess said.

Wright State is currently working on its 2022 schedule, but most organizers appear to be pushing forward for next year while having protocols in place, Bauguess said. The Nutter Center works out protocols for both COVID and conventional safety on an individual basis.

“The decision to return to pre-pandemic activities next year may be premature due to the effects of COVID variants such as omicron. We plan each event individually with the recommendations of the artist and event promoter,” Bauguess said.

At the University of Dayton, organizers are anxious to get back to pre-pandemic levels, UD Arena executive director Scott DeBolt said.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

“We are working with them to do it in a safe manner based on current trends,” he said. ““The plan and hope is that we are able to be back and expand the amount of activity at UD Arena.”

UD Arena completed major renovations in the second half of 2019, and revenue was non-existent from mid-March through November of that year.

In 2022, UD plans to host its men’s and women’s basketball home games, Winter Guard International World Championships, NCAA First Four, OHSAA Boys and Girls State Basketball tournament games, UD and Sinclair’s graduations, numerous high school graduations, and other small events.

Tim Fairbanks, vice president of Winter Guard International and director of performing percussion group Rhythm X, said he’s less worried about WGI Championships, and more worried about what state guidelines might be for regional competition. WGI hosts 60 regional competitions across the country every year. Some percussion and winter guard groups, many of them local schools, are hesitant to register for competitions.

“Entries are about 30% down across the board, which is not that bad. We’re still getting entries. Usually there’s a mad rush in November, which wasn’t the case this year. Some groups are waiting to see if they can travel, what the restrictions are,” he said.

Fairbanks also teaches at Centerville High School, whose marching band was featured in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

“Centerville did a full marching band season and everything was fine. That’s not the case everywhere, but here we were kind of able to open things up. We tried to do the right thing,” he said.

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