Despite Arena Losses, City Optimistic

Despite Ralston Arena’s fiscal shortfalls in the last two years, the city of Ralston, Neb., believes the groundwork is being laid for a financially stable future.

The city-funded 5,700-capacity venue reported a $2.5 million loss on combined operations and debt service in the fiscal year that ended Sep. 30, up from a $2.2 million deficit in the previous year.

After that loss, the state legislature allowed for the venue to collect sales tax revenue from businesses within 600-yards of it, the Omaha World Herald reports. Before this measure, it could only claim the funds from businesses started within two years of its opening or closing. The benefit can now also be claimed from businesses that have started within four years of the arena’s opening.

Even before the new measures, the money gained from these taxes increased from $2 million to $2.4 million in a year.

The city has since increased its property tax by 4.3 percent, added a 2.5 cent restaurant tax, diverted lottery funds and asked other departments to cut spending to meet its bond payments. It has met its payments and is not yet in the red for the current fiscal year.

Arena GM Stan Benis told the World Herald a new hire might generate revenue and help with selling naming rights.

The late Merle Haggard and Gavin Degraw both played at the Ralston Arena during the last fiscal year and upcoming shows include Alice Cooper and Casting Crowns.