The $48 NSF Fee Centre in May 2019 as the Halifax Mooseheads practiced ahead of the Memorial Cup. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

The municipally-owned arena formerly known as the Metro Centre is expected to be $2.65 million in the red this year due to COVID-19.

Events East, the Crown corporation that runs the arena and the Halifax Convention Centre, posted its 2020-2021 business plan for the building named after a bank — which the Halifax Examiner calls the $48-NSF Fee Centre — online on Wednesday.

Much like the convention centre, COVID-19 “has had a substantial impact on the planned performance” of the arena, according to the business plan.

“In early 2020-21, the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on the events industry became evident. The combination of physical distancing requirements, gathering limits and travel restrictions had created significant limitations for hosting sports and entertainment events that are expected to continue throughout the year and into 2021,” the plan says.

While the arena was basically shut down to all events for much of the year, the Halifax Mooseheads were playing again, albeit briefly. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is now shut down again until January. The updated budget numbers are based on the Mooseheads playing their shortened season, so a continued shutdown could widen the deficit.

“As uncertainty continues throughout the current year and into 2021, the revised budget reflects the loss of planned revenue and a low volume of event activity that does not reflect the typical event mix,” the plan says.

The business plan indicates Events East originally expected to bring in $8,267,000 in revenue this fiscal year, which started back on April 1. That would’ve meant a break-even year for the arena.

Now it’s expecting just $2,265,000 in revenue, and while some expenses have been cut, it’s not enough to offset the lost revenue.

The arena’s deficit is projected to be $2,650,000.

“All operating income or losses generated accrue to HRM, and all capital improvements are funded by the municipality,” reads a note at the bottom of the business plan.

While Events East always aims for the arena to break even, this will be the sixth deficit in a row. Last year the deficit was $534,077.

Events East presented the convention centre’s deficit budget to council this week, but made no mention of the former Metro Centre.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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