Study disputes rosy forecast for Las Colinas Entertainment Center




Posted on November 23, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 24 at 12:11 AM


IRVING — More concerns are being raised over a $250 million entertainment center planned for Las Colinas.

A News 8 investigation into questionable expenditures has already prompted Irving officials to call for an external audit.

Now, there are new questions over the numbers being used to market the Las Colinas Entertainment Center, planned as a Mecca of live music, restaurants and night clubs.

Citizens and investors have been told the center would quickly become the one of the most popular venues in the country, based on a pro-forma paid for by the City of Irving, performed by the Innovation Group.

The Innovation Group told the city to expect 280 annual performances, 1.1 million in annual attendance, ticket revenues of more than $28 million, and concerts, restaurant and nightclub sales topping $91 million.

But project opponent and former Irving Mayor Joe Putnam says "stop the music." He points to a new study by economist Dan Houston of Civic Economics indicating the Innovation Group numbers are wildly inflated.

Most glaringly, I.G. predicts 280 performances a year; that's 17 more than Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The forecast would make the Las Colinas Entertainment Center the busiest venue in the country.

Houston's study says — based on the current Dallas market — 104 annual performances is more realistic.

The Houston study also says:

  • annual attendance is over-estimated by almost 400 percent
  • annual food and beverage sales are overestimated by $30 million
  • annual tax revenues are overestimated by more than $11million

"It says to me there's an obvious question of the validity and reliability of the I.G. study," Putnam said.

But current Irving Mayor Herbert Gears says Putnam's study is biased, and was paid for by concert promoters at the rival Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie.

"If you have a motivation to kill this project, you can pay anybody to say anything," Gears said. "There's no credibility, in my opinion, of anything in that report."

Rival promoters now rival performance appraisals on a project getting increasingly mixed reviews.