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With consultant's report in hand, city of Ralston moves forward with plan to turnaround arena

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 17:28:16-05

RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) — After consultants came back with a report on the struggling arena, the city of Ralston's first task is to figure out if they should still be managing it, or instead, give it off to a 3rd party that specializes in arenas.

"They can bring in a lot of other shows that we're not getting right now because they have more power to pull," says Don Groesser, mayor of Ralston.

"The con is you're going to have to pay fees for it so it comes with a cost," says city administrator Dave Forrest.

The report says low sales numbers has been one of the arena's biggest problems, whether it be not getting enough sponsorships or not getting enough bodies in the premium, more expensive seats.

If the city decides to keep running the arena, they'll likely have to invest in people, hiring a half dozen staff, especially in sales and marketing.

"We had one employee that was doing sales, marketing, graphics and maintaining all the contracts with the people that advertise and sponsor the arena, that was just too much to put on one person," says Forrest.

City officials and the report all say negative media coverage factored in to not finding enough sponsors, specifically naming rights for the arena.

"For some reason they've just picked on us all the time and kind of taken a negative instead of a positive and if I was to come to you and say 'would you like to name the arena' and two days before you had a report that says we lost $500,000, you'd say 'I'm not going to put my name on something like that," says Groesser.

While they may never break even, city officials point to the report numbers and believe if they follow recommendations, they'll cut a loss of 1.3 million dollars into a deficit of closer to a half million dollars.

"We could pull back lottery funds, we can pull back sales tax, they'll be opportunities to do different things with those monies,” says Forrest.

Ultimately Mayor Groesser is optimistic that after several tough years, things at the arena will turn around.

"It's not going to be an instant success but I think in the future, the long haul, I think maybe three years, we're going to be in pretty good shape,” says Groesser.