Yesterday I received an interesting tip regarding an agenda item at this evening’s City Council Meeting. Hidden on page 82 of Report 69 Part B are the guidelines for use of the City-owned suite at the K-Rock Centre. In addition to the definitions, eligibility criteria, and sample application form, there’s a complete report of events attended by qualified community groups. Surprisingly, less than half of the listed organizations actually used the City-owned suite, which resulted in the space sitting vacant for a large number of events. What is more unsettling, is the fact that marquee events such as the Bob Dylan and Il Divo concerts, were attended by groups that the public may not recognize as charitable, or non-profit.
Prior to the K-Rock Centre’s opening, 33 corporate boxes were allocated via lottery to local businesses and individuals who could foot the hefty annual licensing charges, which were initially estimated at $18,000 per suite. The City’s suite was obtained so that it could be shared amongst eligible community organizations, who are broken down into three categories, defined as follows:
Registered Charities, Incorporated Non-Profit: Organizations providing a variety of social and recreational services. Must provide documentation to show they are registered and/or incorporated.
Minor Sports Associations: Only amateur sports leagues or associations administering activities solely for children or youth development will be eligible. The organization must operate on a not-for-profit basis and access to the sports program must be available widely to the community as a whole, without discrimination on any grounds. The organization must be an association or club which governs multiple teams spanning several age groups. Individual teams involving a narrow age group or small number of participants are not eligible.
Service Clubs: The Club is operated on a not-for-profit basis, and its purpose includes charitable objects/activity; Services of the Club are offered to a significant portion of the public, and the
proposed use of proceeds of the Suite use is for charitable purposes.
Guidelines may allow for free tickets to some events, but otherwise, the fine print regarding use of the City-owned suite states that eligible organizations are required to pay for admission. For an average Kingston Frontenacs hockey game, tickets cost approximately $25 per person. However, the price of admission for a highly desirable musical act is at least $70 per person, not including facility charges and taxes. Thus, it’s understandable that the City-owned suite is often vacant, as it is next to impossible for charitable and non-profit organizations to justify the expense to see the likes of Leonard Cohen.
On the other hand, service clubs such as the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown B.I.A. were lucky enough to find themselves in the City-owned suite for the pricey Bob Dylan and Il Divo concerts. Although they qualify under the guidelines defined by the City, they probably aren’t on the top of many people’s lists for using the luxury box, especially when compared to the likes of Hospice Kingston, or the Children’s Aid Society. Keeping in mind the fact that the suite is often unused, should these service clubs be held in contempt because they can afford to use the space?
According to recommendations regarding future use of the City-owned suite, once all of the eligible community groups pass on using the luxury box for a given event, the space may be rented out to a paying customer. Although that speaks volumes about the high cost of admission to events at the K-Rock Centre, it makes sense from a taxpayers point of view. Even so, if community groups aren’t interested in using it, should we settle with renting the suite out, or get rid of it altogether?
Special thanks to skuds for the original photo of the corporate box seats, which we obviously remixed.