South Okanagan Events Centre determined to 'be as busy as possible'

SOEC looking forwards

Casey Richardson

The South Okanagan Event Centre (SOEC) is tightlipped on what acts are being set up for later this year, hinting some big show announcements will be coming out in April.

Saturday night will kick off Freestyle Motocross (FMX) World Tour, will the following shows Blippi: The World Wonderful Tour on Friday, May 19 and Bonnie Raitt's concert on Friday, Sept. 22.

The Pow Wow Between the Lakes is also set to premiere at the South Okanagan Events Centre this June.

Dean Clarke, general manager for the SOEC said that for all of the shows that they've sold, there are only a few hundred tickets left.

"Not thousands," he added. "We're really, really excited about how well our fans have come back. So that's been great to see everybody back in the building."

Clarke said that classic rock, hard rock, young country and kids' shows sell really well for the event centre.

However, that doesn't mean the team won't go after everything.

"We have people who work on sort of all those segments of the industry," Clarke said. "We have lots of people that are working on booking when it comes to trade centre, concerts, hockey, all those kinds of things."

The future goal for the complex is to "be as busy as possible."

"Big shows are always on our radar, we're always working on them," Clarke added.

The past few years have been challenging for the SOEC, dealing with staff rollbacks, cuts and lost shows. There was some disappointment when two bigs acts, the Foo Fighters and Ringo Star, were cancelled last year.

"I think having the Foo Fighters book our building, [then] sell out within minutes, and then the tragic event happened, obviously, nowhere near as sad is the families that were involved with that event. But yeah, that would have been a lot of fun. Just great to see the response from the fans that understood.

"Ringo Starr, we've had them before that event is incredible and so is his all star band. So I know that we've been talking to their people about getting another date. And so hopefully we'll see that in the future."

The SOEC was awarded a $2 million subsidy for 2021 and a $2 million subsidy for 2022, with forecasts for the 2023 operating budget estimating the same will be awarded.

Since the centre opened up in 2010, there has always been a subsidy for the SOEC.

"What we sell is economic impact. So for us, it's making the best impact for our community, for the people who support us and pay for these buildings. That's our goal," Clarke said.

"What that usually means is a balance between special events and it's a balance between bringing in shows that impact our communities."

The hope is for the list of entertainers to grow as artists and shows continue to return.

"I don't know if the entertainments come back fully yet. I don't know if the American acts that we see coming into Canada are spending a lot of time in Canada. We would see normally them spend two, three weeks touring across Canada. Now it's like seven, or eight days. So I think for the time being, you'll see bigger acts or majors get a lot of the shows.

"But those things will eventually loosen up and they'll spend more time in Canada and we'll be here when the time comes."

For a list of the upcoming events of the SOEC, visit their website here.

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