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2016 Palace performances produce profits

It was an up and down year for performances at the Corn Palace, but the city-owned event center came out on top. Following a disappointing loss of $17,418.05 on the recent LeAnn Rimes concert to wrap up the year, the city of Mitchell collected a ...

A performance from arena rock cover band Hairball in April generated a profit of $32,158.65 for the city of Mitchell. It was the highest revenue-generating concert at the Corn Palace in 2016. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)
A performance from arena rock cover band Hairball in April generated a profit of $32,158.65 for the city of Mitchell. It was the highest revenue-generating concert at the Corn Palace in 2016. (Evan Hendershot / Republic)

It was an up and down year for performances at the Corn Palace, but the city-owned event center came out on top.

Following a disappointing loss of $17,418.05 on the recent LeAnn Rimes concert to wrap up the year, the city of Mitchell collected a gain of $27,161.74 on the seven shows of 2016.

According to information provided by both Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt and the Corn Palace Events & Entertainment Board minutes, the trifecta of Corn Palace Festival shows and the performance by Minnesota-based cover band Hairball generated a positive net revenue. The three Corn Palace Festival shows - country singer Gary Allan, rock band Styx and the Happy Together Tour - combined to return $26,019.26 to the city, while Hairball's rocking performance brought back $32,158.65.

The other three performances fared worse, capped off by LeAnn Rimes' "Today in Christmas Tour 2016." Of the other two acts, all of which were planned prior to Schmidt's arrival in February, a concert featuring country artist Mickey Gilley lost $4,884.55 and a performance by comedian Bill Engvall resulted in a net loss of $8,713.57.

Rimes' performance was the least successful of the year, selling 1,205 tickets, and Schmidt posited it was due to the "pretty unique niche" of a holiday-themed show.

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"You know, when you're trying to bring in a big name and they're only going to sing Christmas carols or holiday songs, that's a tough market to get out to," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said rock or country acts typically have broader appeal and are easier to market to the Mitchell-area audience. But the Rimes performance was already "on the table" when Schmidt took the reins as Corn Palace director.

And the proximity to the winter holiday season didn't do the Rimes show any favors either, Schmidt said.

"Overall, you limit yourself with your target market when you bring in a such a time-specific show," Schmidt said. "And with it being so close to Christmas, a lot of people are getting Christmas gifts or getting holiday plans ready and they're not sure if they want to spend that extra money on entertainment."

The year was a success overall, and Schmidt was satisfied with both the quality of the acts that came through Mitchell and the net profit. And with the Rimes show capping off the year, Schmidt has turned his attention toward 2017.

The city is still a few weeks from locking down the acts for the 2017 Corn Palace Festival and other performances throughout the year, but he said the priority in 2017 is nailing the perfect timing for each show.

"There's a lot of rural area here around Mitchell, and if farmers are in the field, that really restricts who has the potential to attend shows," Schmidt said. "We've got to look at timeframe and close proximity to Corn Palace Festival and close proximity to other festivals such as the State Fair and what's going on over in Sioux Falls."

Schmidt declined to reveal the names of the most hotly pursued acts for the Corn Palace in 2017, but he hoped more precise planning and coordinating to bring in the right match for the Mitchell area audience will boost revenues next year.

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"At the end of the day, we're competing with a lot of different venues and a lot of different festivals or fairs in the state, and we've really got to be very specific and on top of our game when we're setting up concerts for next year or for the near future," Schmidt said.

Schmidt did, however, reveal one group he hopes to see return in 2017.

After raking in the cash in 2015 and 2016 thanks to two successful Hairball shows that combined to generate $44,513.65, Schmidt said he's working to bring the arena rock cover band back for another year.

"We're definitely working hard to bring Hairball in," Schmidt said. "When you've seen the past success over the past few years that Hairball's had, I think it's a no-brainer to bring them in again."

Related Topics: CORN PALACE
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