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Palace concerts generate $27K so far in 2016

Corn Palace concert profits are soaring in 2016. After concerts at the Corn Palace lost a total of $938.13 in 2015, the two shows held at the event center and tourist attraction in 2016 have generated a total of $27,274.10, according to recently ...

Hairball performs at the Corn Palace in April. The band generated $32,158.65 in profits for the city-owned Corn Palace. (Daily Republic file photo)
Hairball performs at the Corn Palace in April. The band generated $32,158.65 in profits for the city-owned Corn Palace. (Daily Republic file photo)

Corn Palace concert profits are soaring in 2016.

After concerts at the Corn Palace lost a total of $938.13 in 2015, the two shows held at the event center and tourist attraction in 2016 have generated a total of $27,274.10, according to recently appointed Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt.

And 100 percent of the profits can be attributed to the beer-guzzling crowds who turned out in large numbers to see rock and roll cover band Hairball. According to Schmidt, the Hairball show generated $32,158.65 for the venue.

"That's the one concert every year where there's quite a bit of alcohol sold at it, so that really helps out in our increase of net revenue," Schmidt said. "It's kind of known for bringing a party atmosphere to the Corn Palace."

While Schmidt said Hairball's unique style may be hard to find in another act, he said the high returns the Palace received on the show may make similar acts a target for future concerts.

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"It's definitely something that we're going to have to look at, because any time you can bring in a profit like that from a concert, you've got to start looking on that avenue," Schmidt said.

But the other concert at the Palace this year couldn't generate the net profit of Hairball, or any profit. According to a breakdown of this May's show featuring country musicians Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee and Jeannie Seely, the concert attracted 1,131 attendees and generated an income of $47,514.99. But the total expense was $52,399.54.

Despite the showing of the country show in May, Schmidt said the highest-selling 2016 Corn Palace Festival concert as Thursday is for country artist Gary Allan. As of Thursday, the Allan show had sold 1,116 tickets, while the Happy Together Tour had sold 847 and Styx sold 771. Schmidt said the goal is to reach about 1,250 to 1,300 tickets sold for each show, and he expects many more to be sold at the door as the concerts approach.

Cutting costs

With the Corn Palace operating at a deficit of at least $300,000 from 2011 to 2015, Schmidt has already found one way to recoup costs.

Schmidt said the city has added a $3 maintenance charge onto each ticket sold for Corn Palace shows, helping offset the sales and entertainment taxes paid on each ticket sold. Schmidt said maintenance charges are found on tickets for most event centers, but he said the Corn Palace's charge was set at a low rate during the trial phase.

"Starting off, we didn't want to put it as high as everybody else's just because it's new to the area," Schmidt said. "You know, we still want people to come and enjoy the Corn Palace for what it is, but you know, it was one avenue that we looked at that we thought could help us out. Not drastically, but it helps out to recoup some of the costs that we're losing out on."

In his first six months as director, Schmidt has remained in an observational mode, seeking out potential areas to generate additional revenue or cut expenses.

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With a comedian Bill Engvall performing at the building in September, the Corn Palace Festival scheduled for late August and another show in the works for the winter holidays, the Corn Palace could have a few more chances to tack on additional concert profits for 2016.

Schmidt did not reveal the details of the prospective winter show, but he expressed optimism about the performer.

"We think it's a well-known act, but it remains to be seen when you make that announcement," Schmidt said.

Related Topics: CORN PALACE
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