The Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex has for years welcomed concerts and comedians, tournaments and banquets.
For two days last week, the complex along Pratt Drive and Wayne Avenue also welcomed would-be members of Indiana County Common Pleas Court juries.
“I thought it went very well,” Indiana County District Attorney Bob Manzi said. “We were able to pick four juries this week, and I have heard nothing but good comments from jurors who thought that a great deal of precautions were taken. They felt safe and I know that the court and the sheriff’s office and the courthouse staff are doing a great deal of work to do everything they can to protect everyone coming in.”
According to the county court administrator’s office, it was two days’ rental at $500 a day.
“It offers us the opportunity to really space out the jurors so we can maintain social distancing,” Manzi said. “The auditorium is cleaned between every jury pool coming in. It is cleaned every day. The court has taken a lot of steps to make sure it is clean and safe.”
What made all that further stand out was the lack of use of the KCAC since the COVID-19 pandemic in back in March.
Cancellations so far have ranged from the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region basketball tournaments to “Sesame Street Live,” and from the annual assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod to a stop on “Celtic Woman Celebration — The 15th Anniversary Tour.”
Postponements continue to mount, including several events scheduled for later this month:
• The Monster X Tour at KCAC’s Ed Fry Arena, rescheduled from March 2020 first for May, now for March 26-27, 2021.
• “I Am King — The Michael Jackson Experience,” a tribute to the late pop star at Toretti Auditorium, rescheduled until Nov. 7.
• “Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway,” originally scheduled for April 15 at Toretti, now postponed until further notice.
• Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience presented by Delaney Subaru, originally set for April 19 at Toretti, rescheduled for Aug. 22, now rescheduled until April 10, 2021.
• “Hotel California, A Salute to the Eagles,” originally scheduled for April 24 at Toretti, now postponed until further notice.
• Jim Gaffigan — “The Pale Tourist World Tour,” originally scheduled for Aug. 22 at Ed Fry Arena, now set for Aug. 21, 2021.
“We’re still sorting out the financial issues related to the pandemic and the necessity to cancel or reschedule events planned for the facilities,” IUP Executive Director of Media Relations Michelle Fryling said last week. “Fortunately, the KCAC had incredible use and patronage since its opening, so it was in a strong position prior to the postponement/cancellation of events due to the pandemic.”
The 148,500-square-foot KCAC is unique as a venue between Pittsburgh and State College, featuring the 5,000-seat Ed Fry Arena and a conference center able to host four separate events at the same time, as well as the 632-seat Toretti Auditorium.
As reported at an IUP Council of Trustees in May, events through March 31 — just two weeks into the emergency — were down by 37, or 12 percent, to 270, with total attendance at 121,173, 11 percent (14,705) behind 2018-19.
Event revenue was $1.69 million, 8.9 percent ($166,301) behind revenues of a year ago, and 15.2 percent ($304,770) below budget. KCAC reported an event net operating income of $177,846, exceeding its budget by 2 percent ($3,505) and exceeding the same period a year ago by 21.4 percent ($31,373).
University officials said overhead expenditures for the facility were well managed, with a total of $608,707 reported, down 21.5 percent ($167,211) from what was budgeted, and $77,037, or 11 percent, better than a year ago.
With or without a pandemic, 2019-20 had quite a standard to meet.
“Thanks to long-term consistent efforts by the Kovalchick Complex management team and their university and community partners, I’m pleased to report that (the KCAC) completed its third straight record year on June 30,” Sam Phillips, Indiana University of Pennsylvania assistant vice president for Administration, Business & Hospitality Services, said at the Sept. 12 IUP Council of Trustees meeting.
That was a daylong gathering of the trustees, something now a memory as those quarterly meetings have been shuffled off and condensed into far briefer Zoom sessions.
“(The complex) is continuing to host some meetings and events, following all (federal Centers for Disease Control) and (Pennsylvania) Department of Health guidelines about masks and social distancing,” Fryling said. “KCAC staff have continued to work, either on site if physically needed, or telework, to maintain operations as needed, and doing work for future events.”
Fryling said the KCAC staff contacts organizers of canceled or postponed events to see if alternative arrangements can be made.
“Many events (were) re-scheduled to the fall but remain restricted based on State Group Gathering Guidelines,” Fryling said. “Events have also been rescheduled to 2021 and the conference and event booking pipeline remains intact for next year.”
According to the KCAC’s website, events planned with fewer than 25 expected attendees are not affected by virus-related restrictions. It said IUP and the complex would evaluate conditions on an ongoing basis.
If a concert or performance is postponed, the KCAC said current tickets held will be honored for the new date. Those wanting a refund should contact email@example.com, as the complex’s box office has limited hours. That email address also can be used to schedule a time to come to KCAC’s box office or get more information.