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Arenas struggling to fill seats

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Bill Radke: Wall Street is off, but the Arena Football League season is on. The season starts today, and boy is that good news if you work at one of those arenas. There just have not been many big events to book lately. Reporter Steve Milne tells us more.


Steve Milne: Stockton Calif., opened its municipal arena back in 2005. It was supposed to generate money by attracting crowds for indoor football, hockey games, rodeos and rock concerts. But instead it’s lost more than $9 million.

City spokeswoman Connie Cochran says officials are trying to stop the financial bleeding:

Connie Cochran: We definitely are interested in restructuring the operations and management of the arena and we’ve hired a consultant to do that.

The arena is one of dozens around the country struggling under the weight of the recession, says Mark Rosentraub, professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. He says many arenas are just the victim of bad timing.

Mark Rosentraub: See for me the real issue is was the strategy a good one. Building the kind of infrastructure that attracts and retains human capital is a good idea, but in the midst of a very severe recession, there’s going to be problems.

City leaders in Stockton blame poor management for the money problems at their arena. Whatever the reason, though, the facility can’t count on arena football to help fill its coffers. The Stockton Lightning arena football team has suspended operations because of financial problems.

I’m Steve Milne for Marketplace.

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