Is the Fishers Event Center a good investment?

Fishers arena

The acquisition of the Indy Fuel hockey team includes an eight-story, 7,000+ seat Fishers arena. The question we aim to answer is this a promising investment from the City of Fishers, that will stimulate local economic activity? Or a risky gamble in an already competitive entertainment space.

Breaking it down, it could: 

  • Stimulate economic activity, encouraging spending at local businesses
  • Provide priceless community engagement
  • Create jobs
  • Spur further development in local real estate

However, the City of Fishers did not conduct an economic feasibility study. 125-150 non-Fuel and Fishers Freight events are needed annually for the stadium. How the City of Fishers manages those events will make or break the investment. According to a report by John Tuohy of the IndyStar, many mid-sized arenas struggle to break even in the best circumstances.

It’s also important to note that Fishers will rely on venue management firms to operate the arenas and book the entertainment.

More Fishers Event Center Details

The event center will become an extension of the Fishers District near 116th Street and I-69. 

The planned Fishers Event Center is provided by the developer Thompson Thrift

The new 1% food and beverage tax, implemented last year, hopes to bring in ~$3 million annually. 

The tax, alongside ~1.7 million from the following, will help the city pay off its annual $9.7 million in bond payments:

  • $360,000 in rent payments annually by the Fuel
  • $3 surcharge on each ticket to the City
  • Fishers get 100% of parking and concession revenues
  • 20% of a naming rights sale

The total cost of the event center is $170 million. 

The bottom line

The entertainment industry is highly competitive. The success of the new arena hinges on how Fishers handles non-Indy Fuel events and competes with other venues, including the Nickel Plate Amphitheater. 

These include:

  • Community events
  • Trade shows
  • Ice capades like Disney on Ice
  • Pickleball tournaments
  • Pro wrestling
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • Graduations
  • High school basketball (HSE vs. Fishers games)
  • Corporate gatherings
  • Keynote speakers affiliated with conventions in Indianapolis

Venturing into the territory with no economic feasibility study, only time will tell if this bold move will pay off.

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