Miami's Carnival Center Faces Serious Cash Crunch

Classic Arts News   Miami's Carnival Center Faces Serious Cash Crunch
The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, faced with cost overruns and low attendance, could run out of money by mid-May, reports The Miami Herald.

The Center, which includes the 2,400-seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, the 2,200-seat John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall and the 200-seat Studio Theater, needs $4 million more to make it through the fiscal year, according to the Herald.

Center administrators, who have reportedly been relying on money from advance ticket sales to cover expenses, plan to request aid from Miami-Dade County commissioners; they have also applied for a bank loan to pay bills and cover the costs of future shows.

The Herald writes that administrators have a "disaster plan" ready that would close the $472.97 million center this summer for 30 days, lay off staff and liquidate assets. CEO Michael Hardy told the paper on Wednesday (March 28) that the chances of the center closing are "zero percent ... But we'd be irresponsible if we didn't have [a plan]."

The budget shortfall is due to higher-than-expected costs for utilities, security, maintenance and insurance; the center is running a $3 million budget deficit rather than the anticipated $150,000 deficit, and ticket revenues are reportedly 44 percent below projections.

The Herald writes that Carnival Center and Miami-Dade County officials have said that future funding will be generated from ticket sales, donations, community redevelopment dollars and money from the local tax on hotel beds. Administrators added that it is premature to sound the alarm about the Center's future.

To cut costs, administrators have rebalanced the air-conditioning system by adding temperature sensors to correct hot and cold spots. They also are trying to minimize security, engineering and maintenance costs.

One major priority for the Center is finding a long-term parking solution; it currently relies on valet parking and a network of surface lots and garages, but patrons have complained about long waits for valet service and being forced to walk from remote lots.

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