Curtain call for Broomfield’s 1stBank Center: City officials cut ties
BROOMFIELD — Broomfield’s 1stBank Center, a 6,500-seat concert, sports and entertainment venue that opened in 2006, will likely host its last events this year and could be demolished by 2024.
The Broomfield Urban Renewal Authority voted Tuesday night to terminate its contract with Peak Entertainment, the venue’s management partner.
“The time has come to rip the Band-Aid off,” Broomfield city and county manager Jennifer Hoffman said, as the venue has failed to generate the revenue necessary to justify its continued operations.
Peak will vacate the BURA-owned 1stBank Center by Nov. 30, 2023, after which the site at U.S. Highway 36 and Wadsworth Boulevard interchange will likely be redeveloped, city planning officials said.
“A year from now, we will either be through demolition or really close,” Hoffman said.
The move comes amid declining box office revenue for 1stBank Center.
“In 2023, Peak has held less than 10 concerts and events in the Event Center to date, with only three additional shows publicly scheduled over the next six months,” according to a Broomfield planning memo. “During this same period, the Mission Ballroom and other regional venues (many operated by Peak) have captured audiences and opened new possibilities for Peak as those venues continue to have an increasing number of shows and events.”
Broomfield official’s decision to move on from the 1stBank Center comes amid a broader conversation about which kinds of developments work in the post COVID-19 environment and which don’t.
Peak has “been very good partners,” Hoffman said. However, “they, like everyone else, have been subject to what happened in COVID” and the “1stBank Center can’t compete with cool, fresh venues.”
City officials have been in discussions with consultants who they hope can help guide the process of developing the site, where the city controls about 22 acres.
“The look at what could possibly go here has gone on for the past few years,” Broomfield city and county economic vitality director Jeff Romine said. During the period, the market has shifted toward multi-use districts that include entertainment, residential, commercial and retail elements.
In the coming months, it will be up to city officials and their partners to determine the best way to “take that land and do something that will bring us into the future,” Hoffman said.
The finances of the 1stBank Center are complicated because the venue is owned by the Broomfield Urban Renewal Authority, which collects its revenues from different sources than the city’s general fund, staffers said. The city owns about a dozen acres south of the site, which could eventually be combined with current venue acreage to entice a developer that might be more interested in a larger, contiguous plot.
The 1stBank Center was built at the cost of $45 million, financed on the back of $59.8 million in bonds. If the city were to play out the string on the initial bond issuance, Broomfield will have paid $135M for the venue by the expiration date in 2029.
“They made the best decision at the time as they could,” Hoffman said of Broomfield leaders at the time when the venue was approved and built. “We’re just moving forward.”
When asked to describe the venue’s history of breaking even or earning money for BURA, Hoffman said that the answer is “unequivocally no.”
What is clear for city staffers is that continued operations are not feasible. “Having it go dark, we’re not going to bear additional burdens,” Hoffman said.
Because BURA, rather than the city proper, owns the venue, the broader Broomfield tax base may avoid major impacts. “There are two different organizations here,” Romine said. “… The city and county’s debt isn’t changing and will not be deteriorated because of anything here.”
The fiscal impact appears foremost in current leaders’ minds, but the community implications of losing a regional arts and entertainment venue was not lost on Broomfield City Council members.
“It’s such an iconic place, a place you just can’t miss,” Broomfield City Councilmember Heidi Henkel said.