The South Okanagan Events Centre is confident its fortunes will turn in 2021 after a year of mostly losses

SOEC banking on 2021

Casey Richardson

While businesses continue to redo their plans due to COVID-19 restrictions, events centres have been working to see how they can move forward with such unknowns as to when they can bring people together again.

For the South Okanagan Event Centre (SOEC), they are banking on a strong return coming late into 2021 after a devastating $1.5 million loss in 2020. 

“I think we’re going to have a significant party every time we have an event here with our residents,” Dean Clarke, general manager for the SOEC said. 

“June, July, August, I start to think those are the times we start to see quite a bit of recovery and then I think September, October, November, December will be just massive. People coming out in droves.”  

Clarke is also the regional vice president for Spectra Venue Management, which is using intel from their worldwide offices and their re-openings to project recovery.

“That intel shows us those communities that have overcome restrictions,” Clarke explained. “What we’re seeing is almost like revenge attendance, where people have a tremendous pent up demand.”  

That demand and surplus of attendance will be needed. In Clarke’s presentation to Penticton City Council on Tuesday, he outlined the projected $1.5 million loss in revenue from this year with cancelled shows, events and sports games. 

The SOEC has been working throughout the year to cut staff and reduce expenses where possible, but other costs are still a rising factor. 

“The challenges are certainly uncertain for us,” he said. “Are there targets we can adjust to, are there things we can watch for on the daily press conferences that will help us with our business.”

While Clarke said he’s not looking to challenge decisions made by the provincial government, he’s finding the uncertainty hard. 

“Having to wait every three weeks, or every month or every 30 days to make business decisions, like most businesses, is very difficult for us.” 

Currently estimates for the SOEC in the beginning half of 2021 are looking to be similar to the past six months, with few events able to go ahead. The team is still planning to be ready when they can open up again.

“I think when the time comes, and we’re allowed to pick the cards up in the game, we’re gonna pick up more than we had before.”

Penticton council unanimously voted yes to Clarke's request for a net $2 million subsidy for 2021 at Tuesday afternoon's budget meeting.

“We know you’re doing a great job and we have all the confidence in the world in you,” Mayor John Vassilaki said.

More Penticton News