Branson Convention Center faces financial struggles, asks city for funding

The facility needs financial help from the City of Branson to stay open for the rest of the year.
Kadee Brosseau reports.
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 4:45 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - About half of the events scheduled at the Branson Convention Center over the last five months have been cancelled due to COVID-19. Now, the facility needs financial help from the City of Branson to stay open for the rest of the year.

“Convention centers are very important to the economy of any city, especially Branson,” Branson Convention Center General Manager Sam Voisin said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Branson Convention Center has been struggling.

“Between cancellations and reduced spending, you’re looking at about $1.8 million of impact loss in revenue,” Voisin said.

Voisin says management has tried to cut costs in the midst of the pandemic.

“We have decreased our full-time staff by 57 percent,” Voisin said.

However, Voisin says that hasn’t been enough to make up for the loss in revenue.

“There’s a funds request right now in front of the aldermen,” Voisin said.

The city has always helped fund the center, but Voisin says without the additional $354,437 they’re asking for, they’d have to shut the doors of the Branson Convention Center for the rest of 2020.

“We would not be able to host the 43 events that are on the books currently,” Voisin said.

However, it’s not only the Convention Center itself that suffers when big events are cancelled, but also other businesses in Branson that people would visit while they were in town.

“Convention and reunion type business has really taken a big hit,” Branson Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau Interim President Jonas Arjes said. “Group [visitors] have been on a huge decline, obviously, [due to not] congregating in large numbers.”

If the center closes down for the rest of the year, data from the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau shows an economic loss to the community of about $15 million

“The impact that is felt outside of these walls financially far exceeds any operational deficit or even funds request that’s been made here,” Voisin said.

Still, with the end of 2020 in sight, Voisin says they’re hopeful.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are starting to see business creep up and inch back and we think that hopefully by mid-2021, we will be back to somewhat good levels, not great,” Voisin said.

During their meeting last week, all of the Branson aldermen voted in favor of the city giving the Convention Center the money in an initial vote. However, they’ll have the final say during the meeting on Tuesday.

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