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London Free Press Business Section:


JLC posts profit in first year

The John Labatt Centre sold 63,341 more tickets than expected.
JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter   2004-01-14 03:49:23  

London's new John Labatt Centre ended its first fiscal year with higher-than-expected attendance and a tidy profit for the city. City council's board of control will receive a report today saying the city earned about $74,000 in the JLC's first nine months to June 30 last year.

And the number of people who paid for tickets to the downtown arena, 458,860, exceeded original estimates by 63,341, despite only 85 events, five fewer than expected.

"We are bang-on in terms of the bottom-line numbers we expected," said Vic Cote, the city's acting general manager of finance and corporate services.

"We're happy with the overall revenue and attendance, but we'd like to work to improve the expense side."

The $42-million JLC opened in late 2002, one of a series of mega-projects financed by city hall as it made downtown renewal a top priority.

Londoners swarmed to the JLC for several major acts, including Cher, Guns 'n Roses, Avril Lavigne and B.B. King.

But the biggest overall draw was the London Knights hockey team, said Brian Ohl, general manager for the centre operated by Global Spectrum.

"Things have gone very well," Ohl said.

"We're bringing in quality entertainment and offering something to the people of London they've never had before," he said.

"And with the Knights continually filling the building, that's what's driving our attendance numbers."

Ohl and Cote pointed to one significant factor that cut into profits -- start-up costs.

Ohl said those one-time costs added up to about $600,000 and included items from staff training to stationery.

Cote said he's optimistic the JLC will produce greater profits for the city in future, including $100,00 to $125,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30.

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