Professional Management: The Crowning Touch

Last week the community heard, with no great surprise, the results of the benchmark study on the Crown Coliseum. The study compared the Crown to the operations of eight other entertainment facilities somewhat similar to the Crown. The conclusions were no surprise. Actually, almost every aspect of the operation detailed in the report was common knowledge and documented in one form or another over the past several years. Now, it is offi cial.

A $35, 000 study paid for by Cumberland County taxpayers is what our county officials wanted and needed in order to move the Crown Coliseum forward to greater prosperity and distance themselves further away from the $3 million per year defi cit it has become. So, what was in the report? No new news for sure. Revenues down, expenses up, management weak, not enough events/shows, staff too big and a sales and marketing team that completely misses the mark when it comes to doing their job and understanding the community they live in. This being the case, is there any reason why the Crown Board of Directors and the Cumberland County Commissioners would not consider bringing in an outside professional management company to stop the bleeding? Of course not. Besides, outsourcing is a common business strategy for increasing effi ciency and lowering operating costs.

Good thinking. So far, so good.06-26-13-crown.gif

Now comes the difficult and challenging part for getting the Crown back on track. Three companies have responded to a request for proposal for the opportunity to manage the Crown. Not profitably, but, professionally. After all, with 10 years of failed operations and millions of dollars in losses what does Cumberland County have to lose? Absolutely nothing.

During the next several days these three proposals will be reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated. If this process can be executed fairly and flawlessly and in the best interest of the Crown, Cumberland County and its residents, the project will be deemed a huge success. However, many sources familiar with the way the county has historically done business are skeptical. Many profess that “Cumberland County never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Meaning, historically, in too many cases, we just don’t do the right things for the right reasons. Good point. Think about it. How did the Crown get in this situation in the first place? How did it stay that way for 10 years?

The mere fact that the Crown and the county have gotten this far indicates the forces of good are overpowering the forces of negligence. Choosing the right company will be a major step in the right direction. A correct choice here is imperative, and will hold the formula for the future success of the Crown.

My assessment is that so far, things are looking pretty good for the Crown. Making the decision on who will be the management team will ultimately be that of the Crown’s Board of Directors lead by Chairman George Turner. County Commissioner Ed Melvin is advising as the board’s county liaison. The decision will ultimately have to be approved by the county commissioners.

Everyone needs to keep their fingers crossed. The right decision here could provide the leadership needed to spur the economic development needed to get the most out of our $60 million facility.

I applaud everyone’s hard work and dedication to this tedious project. I promise to be fi rst in line to purchase a ticket to this command performance. Hope to see you there.

Thank you, for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Photo; right: Hopefully, the Crown Coliseum may see new private management by the end of the year.

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