Duluth City Council passes $1M cash cushion for the DECC

From University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog hockey to curling, concerts and many more events, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center brings people to downtown Duluth year-round.

To keep business as usual requires cash, and the DECC went to the City of Duluth for a $1 million line of credit on Monday night. The “cash cushion” as some were calling it would be meant as a safety net if money happens to be a little tight.

“We were asking for this cushion to make sure that we are cash flowing all the way into October until all that October revenue starts coming in. It’s to keep everything moving. As I said, our hope is that we won’t even dip into this line of credit, which is, of course, a loan that we will pay back,” said Lucie Amundsen, DECC Director of Communication.

Amundsen added, “It’s really been a perfect storm post-COVID here at the DEC. The first thing is that we’ve all seen wages increase. Many of our part-time positions were paying around $10 an hour, and now they are between 16, and sometimes even $18 an hour. So that is a significant payroll increase for us here,” said Lucis Amundsen, DECC Director of Communication.

During the fall and winter months, the DECC generates significant revenue, but that money slows down in the summer. Amundsen shared that, “There are so many expenses when you have a ten-venue location, it’s very rare for a convention entertainment center to have so many different offerings, and there are three sheets of ice here. So, we have really significant utility bills of around $100,000 every month. The second thing is that we are in an aging facility here. We’ve seen many urgent repairs up to over half a million dollars worth just in 2023 alone. So we’re just looking for this cushion because we are coming out of our what I’d say, the lowest revenue months here at the decade at September.”

The DECC’s impact goes beyond the events inside. When someone comes to Canal Park for a Bulldog game, they are more likely to have dinner at a restaurant before bringing an economic boost. “We just see so much business from DECC, whether it’s conventions, concerts, anything like that. And it brings a ton of business in here, a ton of people that are either, you know, new to the area, came into town for conventions, and then whenever they come back up, they revisit us,” said Vienna Lagergren, Bar Manager at Canal Park Brewing.

After much discussion at Monday night’s council meeting, councilors passed the resolution on the DECC’s request unanimously, with the requirement that the council receives updated financial statements from the DECC monthly.