Published February 2006

Hospitality Briefs

Everett Events Center pays
$500,000 toward debt

The Everett Events Center put $500,000 toward its $54 million debt in December.

According to a budget the Everett Public Facilities District board recently passed, the center should hover just in the black by the end of 2006, with a net income of about $45,000.

Many arenas are heavily subsidized by tax dollars, said Kim Bedier, the events center’s general manager. So far, the events center has avoided turning to the city for a bailout since its kickoff in 2003 — a fear some Everett residents had when plans for the events center were made public.

The events center’s datebook relies as much on the community as it does on big-name headliners.

The arena expects to host nearly a dozen graduation ceremonies this year. More than 80 percent of the bookings in the conference center are local, and amateur hockey is booming at the Comcast Community Ice Rink.

Events center officials hope to snag a naming sponsor this year — a corporate powerhouse that will lend its name to the arena and fill a $300,000-plus gap in the budget.

“It has to be the right fit for this arena,” said Fred Safstrom, director of the Everett PFD board, which runs the center. “We wouldn’t agree to it with just anybody.”

Travel association forecasts
slow growth in 2006

According to the Travel Industry Association of America’s Annual Travel Forecast, slow growth in the U.S. travel industry in fourth quarter 2005 — a trend that is expected to continue through the first quarter of 2006 — is expected to contribute to a modest growth forecast for full-year 2006.

Leisure travel volume is forecasted to increase just 2 percent in 2006, while international travel to the United States will rise 5.5 percent, according to the TIA. Compared to 2005, the growth in travel spending by domestic and international visitors will increase a more modest 4.4 percent in 2006 to $674 billion.

Domestic business travel is likely to be constrained in the final months of 2005 and the first quarter of 2006 due to weak executive confidence, much slower growth in corporate profits and rising travel costs, the TIA said.

The association is forecasting a 1 percent increase in business travel volume for 2005 and a 1.6 percent increase for 2006. On a more positive note, a number of experts at TIA’s recent Marketing Outlook Forum were rather optimistic about the outlook for meetings and group business travel.

Conference center closes
The Marine View Conference Center ceased operations in January, according to the Port of Everett. The building will now be used as the project construction office for the new North Marina redevelopment project.

Ivar’s to close its Alderwood location
Alderwood mall shoppers hoping to nosh on Ivar’s fish and chips soon will be out of luck, as the Lynnwood shopping center has decided not to renew the restaurant’s lease.

Kirsten Wlaschin, director of marketing at Ivar’s Seattle headquarters, said the seafood restaurant has to be out of the food court by mid-February, though a specific closing date hasn’t been set.

Erika Koehler, a spokeswoman at Alderwood’s management office, said only that the decision was a “leasing issue.”

Wlaschin said she’d been told the mall chose not to renew the lease because of “an exclusive agreement with another seafood restaurant.”

Dave Fechter, director of operations for Ivar’s Seafood Bars, said the company has done well over the past 10 years at its location in Alderwood’s food court. That included the period when the mall was undergoing a massive renovation and expansion in 2003 and 2004. That project enlarged the food court and added several sit-down restaurants to the mall, including P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and McGrath’s Fish House.

Before closing at the mall, Ivar’s plans to offer customers coupons for a free meal at other Ivar’s locations along Highway 99 in Lynnwood. The 10 employees at the mall location will be offered jobs at one of the chain’s other outlets as well, Fechter said.

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© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA